With the first year anniversary of Fox Sports 1 approaching on Sunday, this week is FS1 Week at Awful Announcing. Over the course of the next seven days, we’ll analyze the highs and lows of the first twelve months at “the one for fun” and what is in the network’s future.
Some growing pains are to be expected for a nascent national network, but that doesn’t mean FS1 hasn’t had several standouts from their first year. There have been plenty of very talented people who have made an impact in Fox Sports 1’s first year, and should become household names for American sports fans as the network continues to grow. Here are just a few of them.
Gabe Kapler. The meteoric rise of Gabe Kapler has been nothing short of amazing. In the span of a year, he’s gone from a former player who was writing pretty good columns online to arguably the best baseball studio analyst on television today. Kapler’s work on Fox’s MLB coverage has been excellent, combining a vast knowledge of sabermetrics with a gregarious, engaging personality, a pair of characteristics which had seemed mutually exclusive in the past. While Fox’s top MLB broadcast crew of Joe Buck, Tom Verducci, and Harold Reynolds occupies most of the headlines (good and bad) when discussing the network’s MLB coverage, Kapler has been the real star since the moment he showed up on TV.
Joel Klatt. Klatt has turned into the de facto face of football on FS1, putting aside cameos from Curt Menefee and the rest of the crew from Fox NFL Sunday. He’s proven himself to be a very talented studio host during Fox’s football coverage, knowing when to let the analysts talk and when to veer them back onto topic. The former Colorado QB has also proven himself to be quite adept no matter the situation. Gus Johnson’s the guy that gets most of the attention during Fox’s college football games, but Klatt is the glue holding everything together.
Molly McGrath. McGrath is another Fox Sports 1 personality that has seen her stock do nothing but go up this year. She’s gone from update anchor, occasional fill-in host, and occasional sideline reporter to co-host of America’s Pregame and will be the main sideline reporter for Fox’s top college broadcast team of Gus Johnson and Charles Davis this year. Regardless of how you feel about sideline reporters, McGrath’s rise up the ranks at Fox has been well deserved.
Randy Moss. I don’t think anyone expected Moss to be as good as he was in the studio for Fox’s NFL coverage. He initially came off as shy and timid, though knowledgeable. After getting more comfortable with his surroundings, Moss has thrived as an analyst, mixing in humor and refreshing honesty with his vast knowledge. If a spot opens up on the Fox NFL Sunday set in the next couple of years, and Moss is dedicated to continuing as a TV personality, he’s the guy most likely to grab that spot.
Katie Nolan. While her future with Fox Sports 1 remains a bit murky thanks to the cancellation of Crowd Goes Wild (which to be honest, I’m still not over), Nolan was the breakout star from the show’s run as part of Fox’s ill-fated daily programming lineup. While her No Filter web series is quite funny and popular, it almost seems like she should be doing more with the network in some capacity.
Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole. It’s tough to say that Jay and Dan are breakout stars, considering they were already borderline national celebrities in Canada. But the duo’s transition to America has gone smoothly, and American audiences have mostly accepted them with open arms. Jay and Dan were essentially the faces of the network at launch, and a year later, they’ve done nothing to lose that designation – even with Fox Sports Live still struggling to find its identity.
Julie Stewart-Binks. Stewart-Binks has handled everything that Fox Sports 1 has thrown at her over the past year, covering soccer, hockey, and the Olympics in Sochi. She’s a more than capable reporter whose talents are being used to their full potential, and we’ve gotten to see what she can really do over the past few months (instead of just in 30 second snippets at the update desk). I’d be interested to see if her role keeps progressing, or if Fox is content where she is now. Either way, her emergence this year has been wonderful. Who else have we ever seen make Mike Francesa melt so easily?