Behind the scenes of BYU Sports Nation

BYU SportsNation co-hosts Spencer Linton and Jarom Jordan go over pre-production notes. (Maddi Driggs)
BYU SportsNation co-hosts Spencer Linton and Jarom Jordan go over pre-production notes. (Maddi Driggs)

This is the third and final piece of a multi-part series detailing BYU Sports Nation, a daily sports show on BYUtv and BYU Radio. 

Sometimes it takes a small army to get a live TV show on air — certainly the case for BYU Sports Nation (BYUSN). The Daily Universe recently gained backstage access to a live broadcast of the show and saw just how much effort it takes to get the 60-minute program on the air.

The day begins with a meeting at 7:30 a.m.; the crew comes together to discuss the upcoming show. Conversations include who the guest on the broadcast is that day, what crew assignments will be and any special needs for the day.

Most importantly, the BYUSN team decides what topics it will discuss on air. According to co-host Jarom Jordan, the process is fairly substantial.

“The first thing we do in the morning is we throw up everything that’s going on with BYU — and we dig hard,” Jordan said. “We want to make sure the fans don’t have to do that themselves. We’ll do it for them.”

When nothing turns up on slow days, the BYUSN team will look to national sports trends and tailor them to BYU. When that fails, the team looks at a list of “evergreen topics” — subjects that can be talked about anytime if needed — that they have gradually curated.

The goal of this search for topics is centered around the show’s mission: to entertain and inform the BYU fan base. Coordinating producer Ben Bagley prefers to use the word “infotainment” to describe his vision for BYUSN.

After the topics are decided, the team gathers video highlights, creates graphics and re-confirms interviews, among other things.

By 9:30 a.m., BYUSN co-host Spencer Linton said producers “have a pretty good idea of what the show is going to look like.”

With just 30 minutes until the show goes on live, the show’s hosts are on set and the student crew members are running through final equipment tests.

The show’s producers and directors review a few last-minute items. The large studio bay door closes and the set grows quiet.

After a live promotion for the show on BYU Radio, the show goes live at exactly 10 a.m. MST. Potentially millions could be watching or listening to the show on TV, online or on the radio.

After an hour of pure BYU sports and live interviews, the show ends. Immediately after, Jordan and Linton film a one-minute recap of the day’s show, followed by a recap for Twitter.

Everyone moves into a post-production meeting where the crew discusses what went well and what needs to be improved. Then, they do it all again the next day.

The BYU SportsNation production crew watches the show live. The crew works from the master control room, making sure everything runs smoothly. (Maddi Driggs)
The BYU Sports Nation production crew watches the show live. The crew works from the master control room, making sure everything runs smoothly. (Maddi Driggs)

An important aspect of the show is the guests who come on each day for interviews, either in-studio or over the phone. According to Linton, basically every big name in BYU sports has been interviewed on BYUSN.

“We’ve pretty much had carte-blanche of BYU athletes. I mean, you name a prominent athlete and more than likely we have done an interview, if not interviews, with them,” Linton said.

ESPN commentator Trevor Matich has a weekly segment on the show. Other journalists from around the country will call in to the show regularly to weigh in on different BYU issues. A large number of current student athletes have joined as well.

When asked about their favorite interview on BYUSN, three of the four senior staff members mentioned Steve Young among their choices — something most BYU fans can appreciate. The most interesting response, however, came from Bagley.

His choice? Bronco Mendenhall.

Whenever the coach would come on the show, the crew would provide a small treat as a thank you. When they forgot a treat after the spring football game in 2014, Mendenhall jokingly refused to come on the air until the crew had some kind of treat for him.

The result was a show where the coach was able to be the funny guy players often said he was.

“It was the first time that we’d been able to see Bronco Mendenhall on a national stage really let his hair down,” Bagley said.

Despite its star-studded appearances, video highlights and use of modern technology like social media, the show wouldn’t be able to operate without its unique crew. A majority of them are current BYU students.

“I wanted this to be something the students could take ownership of,” said Mikel Minor, the show’s senior coordinating producer. “So the design of the show was specifically designed so that students could manage this show with just a few full-timers and that’s exactly what’s happening.”

Students who work with BYUSN for multiple years graduate with real-world experience that can set them apart from their peers. Student employees are a large part of the show’s production, making it one of the many elements that differentiates BYUSN from competitors.

BYUSN is broadcast on BYUtv, Sirius XM and online each weekday at 1O a.m. MST and again at 4 p.m. MST.

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