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Oct 26: Larry Michael


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Larry took the time to answer all the questions we had for him -- except for the Shony's asking him a George Michael question. Fortunately Larry has time to answer such questions since he doesn't spend any time on the basketball court improving to give me any sort of run :).

ES Staff

Larry, can you tell us a little about your background and how you got to the position you're in?

Larry Michael:

After spending 20 years as Executive Producer for Westwood One Sports, and the last 11 years on the Redskins broadcast crew in various capacities, 6 months ago I came on board full time with the Redskins as Executive Producer of TV and the web site, and continuing as Voice of the Redskins. I’m a local guy, grew up in Silver Spring Maryland and went to the University of Maryland. My first job was with a company called Mutual Broadcasting as a reporter and producer, and over the years have had an opportunity to broadcast some incredible events. The Olympic Games, Masters Golf and U.S. Open, College Football and Basketball, NFL Football as well as a variety of free lance jobs with Showtime, ESPN, HBO, and others. Nothing though could beat Sunday afternoons in the booth with Sonny and Sam.

From Mrieg07

I was a huge Herzog fan, and I was disappointed when he left. Since I've seen all your work on Redskins.comTV I've become a huge fan of yours as well. After comparing team sites w/ friends, we all agree that the Redskins website is the best in all the league. (None of my frineds are skins fans) I am a skins fan that lives in PA about 600 miles away. Can you see what you can do to get Redskins Latenight & Redskins Generation posted on the website more often? I love watching those shows, but Latenight isn't posted often.

Larry Michael:

Thanks for the kind words about the site being the best in the NFL. We take a lot of pride in what we’ve accomplished so far, but we’re just really getting started. As far as getting the shows up on the web, Redskins Generation is posted the week after it airs on TV, and for Redskins Late Night, we will begin posting segments of the show on the site real soon. I’m glad we can keep you in touch with the Redskins even though you’re 600 miles away!

From Arsenic

There was a comment made on sports talk 980, not to long ago, that the Redskins would never consider making Gregg Williams a head coach, after Gibbs' tenure here, because Dan Snyder doesn't care for him, and that he does not get along with Gregg.

I am wondering if this is a situation that is evident, or was this just a bunch of drivel?

Larry Michael:

I don’t know where these guys come up with this stuff. How could anybody be disappointed with the job Gregg Williams has done? Now that our offense is putting some numbers up, the defense looks that much more formidable. As far as Coach Williams one day becoming Head Coach, I know I’ve heard Coach Gibbs mention he intends on coaching this team thru his contract, and by then Coach Williams would certainly be a great choice, but you never know when a team in need might call on Coach Williams for a Head Coaching job. I hope the Redskins can keep him for many, many years to come

From raub

Larry, do you think that the Redskins' acquisition of Extremeskins will set a precedent that other NFL teams will follow? Have you heard any other teams' opinions of the merger? Thanks for your time!

Larry Michael:

I haven’t heard many comments from other teams about our alliance with Extremeskins. To be honest with you, we’ve been working so hard on the season, the videos, our TV shows, and the play by play for WJFK, haven’t had much contact with other teams. I think we are in a unique situation here with the site, as it really gives the fans a chance at unprecedented access to the team, by virtue of redskins.com “unfiltered” efforts. The timing was right for redskins.com to tap into their great resource, and I think the results have been outstanding. I especially like the written columns delivered to redskins.com from Extremeskins each week. Very well written and entertaining from a fans’ viewpoint, not that of the beat writer. They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery so I would expect to see other NFL teams create alliances with fans sites in the future.

From stroupjr

Larry - I've been a life long Skins fan and I love listening to the game with you, Sonny, and Sam. I am a season ticket holder and listen to you guys while at the stadium. However, I feel that the sheer number of advertisements and sponsorships during your broadcast is souring the experience for me. Specifically, the advertisements/sponsorships between plays and within series on the field.

I know the bottom line here, but can we just charge more of a premium for less marketing spots, instead of the high number that is done? I really feel that this is ruining the quality of your product. Please help. Thanks.

Larry Michael:

Your comments on the ad load in the games are well taken. Back in the day with Westwood One and the national broadcasts we produced, we continually looked to try and creatively include sponsor mentions in the game so that they wouldn’t intrude on the action. As the cost of doing business has grown on the local front, more ad and sponsor mentions have been added, and it really takes a good producer and tight crew to not let these ads infringe on the action on the field. We work on it every week, looking for ways to satisfy the sponsors needs as well as those of the listener, and my belief it there is a way to do it. Raising ad rates might be a good idea on paper, but in the fast paced real sales world it’s tough to balance it all. I can assure you I will do everything possible to not allow ads to impact the flow of the game. It’s a real point of emphasis for us moving forward this year. Thanks for listening! Got to love 52 points! Sure makes it a lot of fun in the booth.

From Chubakah

Gas or Charcoal, we need to know!

Larry Michael:

Easy question. Both, charcoal in the Summer Spring and Fall, gas in the Winter!

ES Staff note: Allowing the weather to dictate the taste of one’s food is questionable. We hope to correct this character flaw in Larry.

From TheSteve

Are you Andyman?

Larry Michael:

I am not andyman! The mystery continues…

From fansince62

Larry...any insights/rumors into personnel moves the Skins might be considering for the upcoming off-season? trades? improvements in draft position? roster changes?

Larry Michael:

It’s a little early to be talking about off season changes, especially while the team seems to really be coming together. Talked with Vinnie Cerrato lately, and he’s on the road each week, watching college football games in person, getting all the leg work done for the 2006 draft. I thought last year going into the off season one area the team needed to improve was team speed, and they did a great job by adding Santana Moss and David Patten to the offense. It’s never dull during the off season around Redskins Park.

From DieselPwr44

Can you post Art up on the low block with success?

Also, what's the consensus between you, Sonny and Sam as to how the Skins will do this season?

Larry Michael:

I’ll tell you Art is a load. Remember Jeff Ruland of the Bullets? Art is a modern day Ruland. Backing into the basket he’s tough to stop. He could stand to lose a few pounds, but those extra lbs come in handy down low. He was hot from the outside during our recent hoops game, so they spanked us pretty good. I want another shot at the big boy! As far as the booth goes, we’re all very excited about the way things have unfolded so far. Last season was such a frustrating year with a lot of tough close losses, but it seems things have turned the corner. It’s not an act, Sam loves to see the defense manhandle the opposition, Sonny loves to see the ball in the air to the wide outs, and we’ve had the best of both worlds so far this year. We try not to look to far down the road, but these NFC East games coming up should really be off the hook when it comes to hype. Going into the year I think the attitude was cautious optimism, but now the proof is in the performance and this team looks like one of the better teams in the NFL this year. Also the NFC East looks like the toughest division in the NFC so it should be very interesting.

From Isifhan

As the main facilitator of unfiltered information (try saying that three times fast!) coming from Redskins park, what is your response to the journalists who claim that getting information that is not filtered through "traditional" news reporters is harmful to the typical fan. When Dan Snyder approached you about coming to the Redskins did he go over long term goals for the team and can you perhaps share some things that may be on the horizon that we haven't seen yet?

Larry Michael:

I can’t buy information not going thru the traditional media being harmful to fans. That idea gives fans no credit whatsoever. Fans are much more sophisticated than ever due to the many sources of news available these days. I think what we are doing for the fans with “redskins unfiltered” allows the fans more access to the team and it’s players and coaches. Every press conference is posted in it’s entirety. We have :60 capsules with each player, and our alliance with Extremeskins has added to the total media package we offer fans. When I was brought on board, Dan Snyder made it clear that he wanted Redskins.com to offer more to the fans than any other team website, and as importantly to offer it via state of the art technology, with an eye to the future for things like hand-held streaming video on your cell phone. Our staff and technology is in place to keep delivering video and text at an unequaled rate. I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. Our staff is remarkable, and the work ethic is tireless.

From 1ofDaFatBoys

Hey Larry, what's your favorite skins game of all time?

Larry Michael:

Well no question this year’s win over Dallas still gives me goose bumps. As many tough losses we had last year, especially the one in Dallas, made this year’s win one for my record book. And the celebration afterward was something I’ll never forget!

From Jumbo

I think you do excellent work on redskins.com and it's a great enhancement of the fan's access to knowing and enjoying their team!

How do you compare your own professional satisfaction of this kind of work as a team employee with the more traditional type of coverage you've done as an "outside" reporter? What are some of the trade-offs?

Larry Michael:

Great question. The satisfaction working directly with the Redskins is a little more fulfilling for me since my staff and I have really been embraced as members of the team. There is such a good atmosphere of teamwork generated by Coach Gibbs, and being here on a daily basis has given me an opportunity to expand on my relationship with the players and coaches, which helps me with the play by play and other work I do. Some of the trade-offs have to do with these relationships, and the loyalty which grows in situations like this. I still have to criticize the team, which I haven’t held back on when things go wrong on the field. The criticism from reporters and radio hosts who lack credibility bother me more now that I’m with the team than they did before. It’s like, these guys haven’t stepped foot on Redskins Park turf, but they have these over the top rants against the team. I guess it’s by Redskins loyalty showing. As far as I’m concerned, I made the right move when I joined the Redskins.

From Chrisbob74

As a Skins fan who is 'geographically challenged', I'll like to take the chance to thank you and your co-commentators Sonny and Sam who give us great descriptions of the games via the radio (on NFL Field Pass for me). I'd like to ask - how much of a challenge is it to do game commentary knowing your listener can't see the game so is relying on you to put a image into their 'minds eye'? Is there a basic sort of system that you use to help you describe plays etc so that you can give the listener the best experience possible.

Larry Michael:

I was lucky enough to work with a lot of great announcers when I got started in the business. Tony Roberts, the voice of the Fighting Irish, has had a big influence on me. He taught me the importance of preparation, developing good study habits each week getting ready for the game, and developing a system which works for me. Basically, I go thru all of the PR material from both teams, as well as the tons of info available on the web, boil it down to information that fits the situation, include it on my game boards and notes, and keep going over it right up until game time. I love radio since I truly believe you need to “paint the picture” you talk about. I like to make sure down and distance is repeated often, as is the score and game clock. When it’s 52-17 I love giving the score! But seriously, you want to give the listener a feel for the atmosphere, but more importantly direction, where people are lined up, which way a run goes, which direction a pass is thrown to, things like that to continue to give the outline of the picture for the listener. Sonny and Sam fill in the picture with the “color” by giving the analysis that gives the listener the total view of what’s happening. I’m really lucky and honored that these two great Hall of Famers embraced me from my opening broadcast with them. One of the first jobs I ever had in radio was back in the early 80’s, I was producing a College Scoreboard show hosted by none other than Sam Huff. We still joke about knowing each other for all these years and now we are teamed in the booth!.

From honorary_hog

Can you share a story about a candid conversation that would shed some light on what the Redskins' radio booth is like off the air?

Thanks, and keep up the great work.

Larry Michael:

Well it’s been my pleasure to share the booth for Sam and Sonny. One thing which has been real cool has been sharing our meal time on the road. Dinner the night before the game, breakfast the morning of the game, talking football. A lot of times these stories find their way into the broadcast. Sam for example last year at breakfast in Cleveland told me about the great game he had against Jim Brown years ago. When the time was right during the game later in the day, we brought up that conversation and Sam told the story on the air. Sonny’s always got something going on. We go to the games together real early. I mean REAL early. 4 hours before the game. We sit in the booth, get something to each, talk football, get something to eat, check out the stadium, get something to eat, go over the rosters, get something to eat. A lot of eating going on. It also amazes me how many times these guys are asked for autographs. Especially in the team hotels. They are always nice to the fans, who are sometimes overzealous. The best thing about Sonny is that he gives me a couple of SJ9’s each week. Great cigar.

From SamSneed36

Need any interns/staff members to help with all the production on Redskins.com and Redskins.comTV? Ill do anything!

Larry Michael:

Sorry Sam, we are set with our staff. I would love to brag about them right now. First guy I hired was Mark Dress, the best cameraman around, he shoots all of the video, I’ve know him for 10 years and he’s great. Tim Delaney is our Senior producer, does a lot of the behind the scenes video and his Emmy award winning talent is evident in our shows and videos. Jimmy Hurlburt does a lot of our production, putting in tons of hours making sure we put out a great product. And Erin Skladany is someone I brought with me from Westwood One, she keeps the machine well oiled and on schedule. You never know Sam, but maybe one day we’ll need to expand.

From Gallen5862

I am glad the merger was done. My question is, how was the merger of the board and Redskins.com made and what do the players and coaches and the front office think about this board and the scheduled chats?

Larry Michael:

The alliance between redskins.com and Extremeskins took a lot of discussion and troubleshooting before it became a reality. I wasn’t really familiar with the site before I came on board with the Redskins. Once we saw the passion and creativity which is evident on the board, we knew that the partnership would be a win-win situation for the fans, which is what our ownership is looking for when it comes to redskins.com, I can tell you one thing for sure, the players and coaches love talking directly to the fans, and the Extremeskins chats have been very well received.

From Dalecitymike

Steak or Chicken?

Larry Michael:

Steak for sure, medium

From Timurchin

Hello Larry, I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of cigars Sonny smokes? I would like to send him a case for all of the exciting Redskin memories that he provided in my childhood. Thanks for your time.

Larry Michael:

Sonny smokes his own SJ9’s, but I’m sure he’ll smoke em’ if you send ‘em.

From Tonerman

Hi Larry. Really enjoy your work on both game days and Redskins.com. There has been some criticism of fan site reporters from sites like Extremeskins.com being in the press box at games by the regular press. What's your feeling about it?

Larry Michael:

I believe some of the web sites around the country have filed reports from the press box. I did read where some of the traditional writers were upset that someone from Extremeskins was cheering in the press box. This is considered bad etiquette but at the same time I’ve seen all kinds of cheering in press boxes over the years all over the country so everybody should just lighten up. It was probably Art cheering the announcement that free food was being served!

From portisizzle

Is Larry Landover keeping you out of trouble? I haven't heard from him since the Cowboys game.

Larry Michael:

Larry Landover has done a great job with his homework for the season. He should be all over it, since he quit his job (got laid off) for spending too much time cheering for the Skins. I’m not sure if Larry realizes how popular he’s become. I do know that he has some big plans for the coming weeks with these NFC games coming up. You have yet to see the best of Larry Landover!

From Bhayesp

Great job with Redskins.comTV so far. Any chance you will take some of the features you have on there and turn them into video or audio podcasts?

Larry Michael:

As I mentioned to an earlier question, our goal is to stay on top of content delivery, as well as in front of the continuing technical revolution. Cell phone video and audio content will be available very soon, and podcasts are certainly on the horizon as well. We think redskins.com is set to deliver exclusive Washington Redskins content, video, audio, and text, to all forms of technology in the coming years. That’s one of the reasons this job is so exciting for me. Everyday there’s a new idea or new technology and we are in a great position to give our fans what they are looking for.

From tcfuller79

The Skins play season in and season out in the toughest division in football, what are our playoff chances in your non-biased opinion?

Larry Michael:

Good news is the Skins are playing good football. The bad news is they play in the toughest division in the NFL. While I like the Redskins chances of getting into the playoffs as it stands right now, a lot can happen over the next 10 weeks. Trying to stay as non-biased as possible, you have to figure if the Skins can win all of the remaining home NFC East games, they should be in good shape. Take care of home, and pull away a couple of road wins, and the post season will become a reality.

From Skinsterp

Some of the games we are seeing this year have been real nail biters and determined in the final minutes. When you're broadcasting thrilling finishes such as the 'Skins Monday Night victory against Dallas, do you ever find yourself consciously holding back your enthusiasm or comments in order to prevent the 'Homer' label that's sometimes placed on announcers? I know I'd have a difficult time controlling my mindless ranting, if I were in your shoes.

Larry Michael:

Hey, I am a Washingtonian and a lot of people already think I am a homer. The reality of it is I want the team to win. It’s more exciting for the listeners, how are predominately Redskins fans and they want the team to win as well. I have learned over the years, especially broadcasting Championship Boxing, that you can get caught up in the excitement of the moment, and loose focus on what you’re there for, which is to describe what you are seeing. But at the same time you’ve got to be real. And the end of that Dallas game was as real as it gets!

From Steves504

After Lavar's Performance, do you think that was the missing piece on the redskin's defense from week 1-6? What is your favorite Skins topic you have covered during your redskins experience.

Larry Michael:

Not sure what kind of missing piece since the D was awesome from the first snap this year. Obviously his talent is undeniable, and you saw the impact he had against the Niners. The thing that excites me watching the games is the added explosiveness he can give this already very solid defense. I’m sure the Defensive Chemist Gregg Williams will put together some experiments in his lab working Lavar into position to make some plays in the future. You have to be excited about the way this Defense plays as a unit, everybody contributing. You’ve got to figure opposing Offensive coordinators are staying up late looking for answers.”

As far as my favorite Redskins topic it has to be the return of Coach Joe Gibbs. It was a shocking move in January of 2004 when Coach Gibbs was announced. I never thought he’d come back again to coach in D.C. and in fact a lot of what you thought about and looked forward to in 2004, some of which wasn’t realized during the 2004 season, seems to be happening in 2005. Just being in the same building with Coach Gibbs is a learning experience. Not just football, but in the way he handles people. And I really believe the best is yet come!

From PleaseBlitz

What is your favorite call that you have made for a play and are there any you wish you could take back and have a do-over?

Larry Michael:

Favorite call for sure was the second Santana Moss TD catch against he Cowboys this year. The one I’d like to have back? Well I misidentified a Cowboys tight end last year during game three of the season and I haven’t forgotten it yet!

From Computerclone

Before I go on I have a suggestion for you that I hope you take to heart. I know you’re in your second year, but, please when the skins score, say, "Touchdown Washington Redskins!"

On Lavar, do you think the media has tried to influence the Coaches into playing him? Second part can think you can send me 2 tickets to the Skins game in Tampa?

Larry Michael:

Not sure if I want to plan out a touchdown call, I think I’d rather just be real and do what comes naturally but I sure feel what you are saying and hope we have plenty of touchdown calls to come this year. 7 TDs last week was sure fun. As far as your question is concerned, here’s what I think on the way the media has handled this Lavar situation. Having been part of that group for so long, I know that you have to ask the tough question and you need to make sure you get an honest answer. What has bothered me during this deal is that the same question has been asked over and over and after a while you wonder why it’s still being asked. The answer is the same each time, it was almost like nobody was listening to the answers. I am sure glad Lavar did his thing on Sunday and this week the questions at least are different. As far as the two tickets go, you’re on your own, but we could use all the Skins fans in that Tampa stadium on November 13 that we can get in.

From Huly

What would you like to see the Redskins add to their broadcasting abilities for the fans?

Larry Michael:

Not quite sure what your question is, but I would like to see more local Redskins radio shows, as well as everybody updating to a good broadband connection so everybody can see the exclusive video on redskins.com. We have so much more content to deliver, great plans for the future, some highlight DVD’s, “Best of” DVD’s and some historical DVDs in the works for 2006. But of course, we are planning on not taking a break until after the Super Bowl in Detroit!

From Riggins44

Dan Snyder and the Redskins have been very proactive in giving fans access to the

team (like the chats here). Have there been any new avenues or ventures to enhance the fan experience?

Larry Michael:

You’re right, one of the team’s goals from a management standpoint is, and will remain to be satisfying our fan’s appetites for information. What you’ve seen with the web site is just the first step. From a content standpoint, I’d put ours up against any site in Sports. A lot of fans have expressed appreciation for all of the video we’ve put up on redskins.com TV so far. Funny thing is, we didn’t get started until this summer. With a full year to build the content, the future as far as our site is concerned is fantastic if you’re a Redskin fan. Also this year we’ve debuted two new Television shows with specific target audiences. First the Redskins Generation show Saturday’s at noon on Chan 9 in Washington is targeted at a younger audience, teens and pre teens, our auditions for the “New Fun Bunch” have shown us that young fans seem to know as much as the old timers. Redskins Late Night Saturday nights at 12:30 on Channel 9 isn’t the typical football show. Chris Paul and his cast of characters put a good natured spin on football. I think you’ll see in the future other means of content delivery such as cell phones and podcasts in our plans. We are committed to getting Redskins fans all the latest “unfiltered” information using every available technology.

From Hogs1fan

First off I would like to say that I love listening to you Sonny and Sam. It just isn't a Redskins game without it. I just have one problem it drives me crazy my game on TV is always behind the radio. My question is what do you see happening this off season with the salary cap. It seems each year we lose really good football players because we don't look ahead to the future. Don't get me wrong I’m loving this year so far though. Thanks

Larry Michael:

It’s really been my pleasure sharing the booth with Sam and Sonny, two of the real good guys in sports. They’re like brothers, and the road trips have been unforgettable. Next time I am asked to chat, I hope someone asks me about our trip to Chicago last year. Salary cap is a tough question. First of all, I can’t say I’m an expert, but from a practical standpoint, the loss of Pierce and Smoot last year to free agency didn’t have the impact many expected. I think the Redskins will do the usual Salary cap maneuvering during the off season. On the other side of the ledger, I really believe the team is committed to keeping the core group of players, but in the NFL these days you never know when “capanomics” will come into play.

From Blade

I hear that you and Art went at it on the basketball court before the Dallas game.... could you tell us which part of Art's game is trashier.... his mouth, or his jumpshot? And is Art really 4'6" as the Dallas fans claim?

Larry Michael:

It is a fact that Art and I took part in some hoops action while on the road in Dallas. It was a hard fought contest. I thought I had set him up pretty good the night before with some drinks and cigars, but somehow he overcame these bad training habits and his team handed it to us pretty good. We want a rematch!” I’m a little superstitious though, and considering what happened later that night in Dallas, I might just let him win again.
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