It’s no secret that Joe Buck has wanted to do a talk show. We know about his initial effort Joe Buck Live on HBO in 2009 which lasted for a mere three episodes. Then there was the 2007 pilot he shot with a New York taxi driver as his co-host. It was no surprise that it was not picked up.

But DirecTV came calling with an opportunity for Buck to host a straight 45-minute interview show called “Undeniable with Joe Buck.” And unlike Joe Buck Live which had a series of athletes, actors and comedians (yes, Artie Lange), there’s just one athlete per show or interview.

The debut episode premiered this week on Audience Network which is available on both AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV. Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was the first guest in front of a live studio audience at the Manhattan Beach Studios in California.

Unlike Joe Buck Live which had Buck attempt to a short monologue on the current issues in sports, Buck did a short introduction of Jeter and brought him out to wild applause. And then Buck went right to the interview, showing pictures of Jeter as a child, teen and then as a young player with the Yankees.

And it was straight interview. On cable/satellite, Buck did use the term “pissed off” when asking Jeter about the 2004 American League Championship Series in which the Yankees blew a 3-0 advantage and subsequently lost the next four games to Boston Red Sox. Jeter admitted he still isn’t over the loss.

The show used archival MLB footage, but seemingly off the internet so the video was choppy and looked awful in the upload to high definition television. But that is the only complaint about the first show.

As Buck has called baseball and plenty of Yankee games involving Jeter, he had a familiarity with his interview subject. Buck certainly did his homework in researching Jeter’s early life plus discussing some subjects including this VISA commercial with the late George Steinbrenner:

To his credit, Buck was able to put Jeter at ease to talk about his life as a child, teen and his relationship with his parents. He admitted to Buck that to this day, he gets calls from his mother scolding him for various exploits.

So this certainly is not Joe Buck Live and the difference is clear as night and day. And the difference is purely intentional. While Joe Buck Live tried to show the irreverent side to Buck, Undeniable with Joe Buck shows the serious side. There were a few humorous questions, but the key to any good interview program is that the host listens to the answers and knows when to interrupt to ask follow-ups or allow the subject to talk and continue with the answer.

There were times when Buck made Jeter feel uncomfortable especially when he showed this now-famous Sports Illustrated cover shot with him topless with Alex Rodriguez, Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez and Rey Ordoñez.

Baseball: Feature. Casual portrait of (clockwise L-R) Toronto Blue Jays Alex Gonzalez,  Florida Marlins Edgar Renteria, NY Mets Rey Ordonez, NY Yankees Derek Jeter and Seattle Mariners Alex Rodriguez. Players are topless.
Baseball: Feature. Casual portrait of (clockwise L-R) Toronto Blue Jays Alex Gonzalez, Florida Marlins Edgar Renteria, NY Mets Rey Ordonez, NY Yankees Derek Jeter and Seattle Mariners Alex Rodriguez.

Buck does show the ability to listen and pay attention. Undeniable with Joe Buck is not going to compare with a Scott Pelley hard-hitting interview on 60 Minutes, but that’s not where the show is going. It’s to reveal a side of athletes that we normally don’t see and in that case, the show is successful. Undeniable with Joe Buck allows him to stretch his wings beyond the broadcast booth and display skills we normally don’t see from him like doing a Jar Jar Binks imitation (it has to be seen to be believed).

Undeniable With Joe Bucks airs every Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the Audience Network on AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV.

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 four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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