By Jim Williams
Special to S.F. Examiner
Dave Flemming loves the Bay Area and his role as a member of the Giants radio and television team. He’s spent 16 years working with Hall of Fame broadcaster Jon Miller as well as the talented duo of Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper.
He also loves doing Major League Baseball, college football and basketball for ESPN. He has the best of both worlds, and in January, he inked a deal that will keep him calling Giants games for the next four years, while also doing high-profile national telecasts for ESPN. Fleming caught up with The Examiner before Tuesday’s Bay Bridge Series opener.
Williams: What was it that drew you to continue do local Giants broadcasts and stay in San Francisco?
Flemming: I think there is something very special about broadcasting local baseball in a great market like San Francisco that puts it above any job in the sportscasting business. We are with fans for almost half the year from the time Spring Training begins to hopefully October. In the summertime when people can decompress a bit we get invited every day into fans’ cars, their homes and their backyards, and there is a true connection between fans and broadcasters that runs deeper than any other sport. So, to me that makes my job doing Giants game more rewarding because you hear from fans at the local coffee shop, or when you are out with your family and they genuinely tell you how much they like the broadcast as well as talk about the team. It is that one on one fan connection here in San Francisco that makes this job so special.
Williams: What are your thoughts on the topic of being a homer?
Flemming: When you are with the Giants almost 200 days out of the year you get emotionally invested, it’s only human. So whether you set out to be a homer or not, it is difficult not to empathize with the team as they go through the grind of a season and to see the passion they have to want to win day in and day out. It is natural to want to see these guys succeed, and I call the games fairly and honestly. But, look, it is our job as local broadcasters to be excited when the Giants win and feel a bit of pain when they lose. It’s what the fans expect, and to me, that is what doing local broadcasts is all about.
Williams: What about the group of analysts you work with on the ESPN games. What do you learn from them?
Flemming: Well, let me first say that I am blessed to be working with three of the best in the business in Jon, Mike and Kuiper — they are super people. But, as a play-by-play man, it is good for me to hear some different voices talking about the game with views that are new. My ESPN partners — Dave Ross, Eduardo Perez and Tim Kurkjian — all bring a vast amount of baseball knowledge to the telecasts and every time I work with those guys I learn a little more about the game, which makes me a better broadcaster.
Williams: How about your college football and basketball work with ESPN?
Flemming: I really love college sports and football is the only one that of course overlaps with the baseball season, so that is a bit tricky. So, I am blessed with great analysts who know the game and I really enjoy my role with ESPN college football. Then comes college basketball and that means quite a few great games including the Big Ten. I love being around college sports it really is an amazing atmosphere.
Next up for Flemming will be the Little League World Series and he will play a big role in the coverage of that event for ESPN.
Channel surfing: The 49ers and Dallas Cowboys preseason game that was seen locally on KPIX was also a big hit nationally on the NFL Network. The ratings were better than the network opener for last preseason that featured Denver and Minnesota. It should not be a surprise since the Cowboys and the 49ers remain a marquee national draw.
CBS and AT&T have ended their dispute. KPIX is back on AT&T cable in South San Francisco, and DirecTV subscribers are able to get Channel 5.
Warriors fans might make note that both TNT and ESPN are looking at earlier start times for 2019-2020 national telecasts on their West Coast doubleheader games. This upcoming season, 36 of 70 games will have 6:30 or 7 p.m. PT starting times, compared to only 14 of 73 last season. The NBA is moving the broadcast times earlier to accommodate East coast viewers.