Any baseball organization is made up of many different parts from the management, to the players, to the staff both game day and front office, just to name a few. I think one of the most overlooked part of any baseball family is its broadcasters. Most fans never really notice how great the talent is until a national network covers the games, which then leads to color commentary bordering on a Captain Obvious level. Those national networks may follow your favorite team from time to time because they have to know what’s going on, but they don’t really know your team. (In case you don’t believe me, just check out baseball Twitter on a Sunday Night Baseball game.) Thankfully one game without your broadcasters in a 162 game season is no big deal. I guess this is where the old adage, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” comes in.
However, I’d argue that Nationals fans are very aware when is not F.P. Santangelo or Bob Carpenter in the booth. I’d also say that they definitely notice when it is not Dan Kolko delivering covering the news from the sideline. For those non National Fans, Kolko is the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) on-field host. You often see him pregame, mid game for quick stories and updates, and for post-game reactions from the team. With his current role, Kolko is around the team as much as anyone.
As a natural born baseball fan, Kolko found his sports broadcasting journey beginning in Dickinson College, where he started off in sports radio. From there he transferred to University of Delaware, where he was able to get some on-air experience working with their live TV broadcasts, contributing both play-by-play and color commentary. After college, he continued to Comcast Sports Net (CSN) and was then offered a gig with MASN covering the Ravens. 2012 was when he first began to cover the Nationals with MASN’s website. Two short years later, Kolko got the call to the big leagues, sideline reporter for the Nationals. Since then, besides experiencing many a post game celebration, he has covered the team through blog posts, on air, and has even begun his own podcast, Between Innings with Dan Kolko. And while it is mostly semi-serious baseball content/takes (like discussing the Nationals Bullpen), you’ll also hear some exclusive player interviews, funny road stories, and everything else that happens in a 162 game season.
And while he spends his time interviewing players, I figured that it was his time to be interviewed. We chatted baseball, DC Sports, his wonderful podcast and other things in between. So without further adieu, here is the 7th Inning Stretch with Dan Kolko!
Not A Gameday Guide (NGG): Besides Nationals Park (obviously) where is your favorite baseball stadium to visit?
Dan Kolko (DK): I get this question a bunch, and always separate my responses into the historic parks (Wrigley and Fenway) and the newer ones (AT&T Park in San Francisco, Petco Park in San Diego, PNC Park in Pittsburgh and Camden Yards in Baltimore). That’s a long list of “favorites,” but all of those parks bring something to the table that I really like.
NGG: Who are some of your favorite Twitter accounts to follow (sports and/or non-sports related)?
DK: To be honest, I don’t really spend much time on Twitter except for work purposes. Most of my follows are players/other reporters, so I’m not really the best guy to answer this one. But I will say that former Nationals pitcher Dan Haren is hysterical on Twitter. I knew he had a really sharp wit from my time covering him, and it definitely translates to social media.
NGG: Describe one hidden talent or quirk that not a lot of people know about you.
DK: I’ve never really thought about this before, but after giving this question a good minute or two of consideration, I’m realizing I’m not a very talented guy. I’m a decent cook? I’m really good at remembering the plot of various Seinfeld episodes? I dunno.
NGG: Any guilty pleasures?
DK: I will admit that I started watching “The Bachelor” a couple years ago. It is terrible television, and I kind of hate myself for watching it, but man, is it entertaining.
NGG: What would it take to get you to run one race as a racing president? And which president would you pick?
DK: I actually already have. Back in 2015, after a string of quirky activities on the road (going down the slide and climbing the climbing wall in Milwaukee during Nats/Brewers games, petting the rays in the ray tank during a Nats/Rays game), then-manager Matt Williams told me I needed to get in the Presidents Race at Nats Park. Every time I would do some sort of antics in a road ballpark, the Nats would win, so he wanted me in the Presidents Race. So I suited up as Tom, strapped a mic to my chest and a GoPro to the outside of the costume, and did the damn thing. I got smoked, but didn’t topple over – which was my main goal. And I think it made for decent television.
NGG: Heard you sneezed 15 times in a row, have you outdone yourself yet?
I just sneezed 15 times in a row. Personal record by a longshot. Just wanna let the world know how special tonight really was.
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) November 27, 2016
DK: Not even close. What made that event so special was that I’m not typically a multiple sneezer. Maybe 3-4 MAX. So to get to 15 was a moment I will cherish forever and almost surely never top.
NGG: What do you say to people who say that D.C. is not a “baseball town?”
DK: I say that the Nationals have only been here since 2005, and interest has only grown since then and continues to grow the more the team wins. Kids in the D.C. area (myself included) have grown up Redskins fans here for decades, but the longer the Nats are around, and the more success they have, the more passionate fans will become. This generation of kids will grow up with Nationals baseball and have it passed down from their parents, and that’s when that diehard nature becomes truly ingrained.
NGG: Does it ever get old hearing people tell you, “You go Dan Kolko!”?
DK: No way. I love it.
NGG: You’ve been drenched in everything from beer to chocolate syrup during a post-game interview. What is one thing you’d absolutely hate to have dumped on you?
DK: Well, the chocolate syrup was pretty bad, because that’s suit-ruining stuff, right there. But I try to take it all in stride, because if they’re dumping stuff on a player I’m interviewing (or on me), that means the team is having fun and having success. And that’s always enjoyable to be around.
NGG: Is this the Capitals’ year?
DK: Well, I’m answering this like a week and a half after they were knocked out in heartbreaking fashion – again – so I’m gonna go ahead and say no. Man, what a dagger.
NGG: Carpool Karaoke time, which songs are in your mix?
DK: It’s cliche, but I really do listen to everything, from rap to country. Some of my favorites – T.I., Drake, Justin Timberlake, Sam Hunt. But I usually just put my Spotify on shuffle.
NGG: The baseball season can be long and grueling for a lot of different reasons for all involved from the top down. What keeps you motivated to stick with the game?
DK: I love sports. I love baseball. And I’m very fortunate to have the job I do. It can be a grind, for sure, with all the travel and packing and unpacking, and sometimes I feel like my apartment got hit by a tornado. But most days, my job is incredibly fun and enjoyable. I get to talk about baseball on TV and travel with a big league club. I don’t see much beating that.
NGG: The season has just ended, and money is no object. Where are you going on vacation?
DK: Somewhere warm. With a beach. And far away. Hawaii? Fiji? Somewhere like that.
NGG: Tell us about your podcast, Between Innings with Dan Kolko. And what inspired you to begin a podcast?
DK: It’s been a lot of fun getting it off the ground. The goal was to have a Nats podcast that mixed nitty-gritty baseball conversation with fun, casual topics and funny stories from the road, and I’d like to think I’ve delivered on that so far. I try to do player interviews that cover topics that they don’t discuss on a daily basis, and that allow fans to see more of their personalities. And then I’ll mix in stupid stuff, like myself and players breaking down “Game of Thrones” episodes, or me ranting about fans who go all-out for t-shirt toss giveaways, knocking over children in the process. We tape out of the podcasting studio at Chatter, a restaurant in Friendship Heights, D.C. – one that Tony Kornheiser built and uses to record his podcast. Tony and the ownership gang at Chatter approached me and asked if this would be something I’d be interested in doing, and it’s been a blast so far.
NGG: What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the sports industry?
DK: Work hard. Make contacts. Build relationships. So much of getting started in this business is knowing people, and getting someone to give you a chance. Even if you think you want to work in one specific area of sports, get experience in other areas. I knew back in college I wanted to be in television, but I did student radio and wrote for the newspaper, as well, and those skills helped me get started in the industry and made me a more well-rounded hire. You’ll be told “no” a lot in this business, so be prepared for that, and be willing to keep working despite low pay early on and poor hours.
NGG: What’s next? (Career or otherwise)
DK: Another game tonight. Oh, you mean bigger picture? No idea. I love what I’m doing now, and want to continue to work in sports television going forward. I don’t have a set idea for what I want next, but I’m planning on continuing to work as hard as I can and have as much fun as I can while I’m doing it.
So there you have it! Want to get into sports? Work hard, build networks, and love what you do. Thanks so much to Dan Kolko for the interview. Best of luck for the rest of the season!
If you like pictures of ballparks, tweets about game & player updates, or just want to see if Dan breaks his all-time sneeze record, you can find where to follow him below!
– Twitter: @MasnKolko
– Instagram: @dankolko
And you should definitely check out (and subscribe to) his podcast, Between Innings with Dan Kolko! You can find it on iTunes: Click Here! and/or on Soundcloud: Click Here!