Belanger comes live from Radio Row

Date: 1/29/2015

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It’s Friday and back home, it’s 3 a.m.

Kyle Belanger is up; about to start the final leg of what has been a true test of his endurance, and his body’s caffeine tolerance.

Since boarding a plane a day early to avoid the blizzard bearing down on the Northeast and landing on Monday at the site of Super Bowl 49, Belanger, a South Hadley resident, communications faculty instructor at Springfield College and on-air personality for The Average Joe Show on CBSSports Radio’s Springfield affiliate, 1450 The Hall, has been running a triathlon of sorts on Radio Row.

In what has become a convergence of nationwide media markets, Radio Row puts more than 100 stations from across the country shoulder to shoulder, bringing the buzz of the week leading up to one of the world’s biggest one-day spectacles into listener’s homes and vehicles.

Invited by Chris Visser, South Hadley native and president of Antero Sports, a nationally recognized sports broadcasting production company, Belanger has been working feverishly with Visser's team in the days leading up to the big game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.

Especially when Visser agreed to allow him time to continue hosting his own show, Belanger said he jumped at the opportunity, even though there was no guarantee at the time that the Patriots would even be in the Super Bowl.   

“Chris Visser was once referred to by [sports columnist] Rick Reilly as ‘the Michael Jordan of sports producers,’ so any time you have the opportunity to work with something like that, especially at something like the Super Bowl, I feel like you have to be a part of it,” Belanger explained.

“I actually accepted the invitation to go about two months ago thinking the worst-case scenario would be I’d get to see the [Green Bay] Packers and the [Denver] Broncos or whatever, just kind of gambling at the time that it would work out at least kind of a little bit in our favor. There’s always interest in the Super Bowl and there aren’t many times that I can remember a local Western Mass. sports talk station having someone on radio row,” he added.

Some of his duties include meeting celebrities and producing content for national broadcasts. Of course, as the new guy, he’s also accepted less glamorous assignments such as working the early shift, securing rental cars, setting up equipment and making sure people get where they need to be.

“I’m the new guy, and I know there’s no job too small,” he joked.

 Before heading to Radio Row on Wednesday, Belanger also started doing his part on a big job, working with the Wounded Warrior Project to put on a football game between wounded veterans and a team of NFL alumni.

“That’s something I’m really excited to be a part of,” Belanger said.

With the Average Joe Show, Belanger has been calling in all week long, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., offering “live hits” from Glendale, providing not only boots on the ground coverage, while also taping and sending interviews to be played on-air.

While doing all this, he has seized the opportunity to bring his students with him. Belanger has taught two of his classes, Sports Broadcasting and Radio Journalism, via FaceTime direct from Radio Row.

“It’s a real opportunity for them to see the inner workings of a major event like the Super Bowl and all of the things that really go into making something like this work,” he said, explaining guests have aided in the endeavor. “It’s a chance for them to get to hear from some of the people who are really doing it, some of the best in our field, some real legends in the industry.

“It also gives them kind of the ‘behind the scenes’ production aspects, a kind of ‘show and tell’ all from where it’s all happening,” he added.

After the marathon week, Belanger will again rise early on Saturday, but not to prepare for the weekend’s festivities and the game. Instead, he’ll be boarding a plane to return to the snowy Pioneer Valley, and he’s OK with that.

“A lot of my students have said, ‘I can’t believe you’re not staying for the game.’ One of the things I hope my students learn is for us [journalists], our Super Bowl is the week leading up to it,” Belanger said. “I’ve seen football; you’ve seen football. For us it’s about getting and relating the story and that’s what I’m excited about doing this week.”

“Plus,” he admitted, “It will be nice to relax, watch the game, and then go to sleep in my own bed.”