At some point, what’s happening on the set of “ChangeUp” on DAZN on Wednesday night won’t be newsworthy. At some point, having an all-female desk hosting a nightly baseball show, with female reporters coming on as guests to share expertise and insight gleaned from careers dedicated to the sport, will be a common occurrence.
But for now, it’s a pretty new concept.
Lauren Gardner was one of the original hosts hired by DAZN – full disclosure, DAZN is Sporting News’ parent company – for the “ChangeUp” show, which started at the beginning of the season. She’s being joined by NHL Network host Jackie Redmond for Wednesday’s prime-time show, which runs from 7-10 p.m. ET on the DAZN app.
I chatted with Gardner about an hour before go time.
SPORTING NEWS: I heard about this show, with the all-female desk, a couple of days ago. So how did this come about?
GARDNER: Funny enough, Jackie was the first person I ever went on an NHL or MLB Network appearance with. She was hosting “NHL Now” and I was a host and reporter for Altitude Sports and Entertainment, covering the Avs, so they bought me on as an Arena Cam correspondent. So I started making regular appearances on “NHL Now” with her and we kind of developed this rapport, to where I felt like I knew her, and vice versa. And then I came out here (to New Jersey, where DAZN’s studios are located) and auditioned for this job, and got it. And she commented on my Instagram or something and she was like, “I can’t wait to have my future BFF come out!” We were friends from the jump.
SN: That’s excellent.
GARDNER: We were chatting at the (MLB) All-Star Game – she was out doing the Virtual Reality Home Run Derby – and we talked to Logan, Logan Swaim, who’s our EP (executive producer) and he’s amazing, and Jamie Horowitz (DAZN’s executive vice president of content) was on board. We were like, “Let’s do an all-female show. Jackie and I should do a show together. It would be so fun.” And then Logan approached me about a month ago and was all in. They do something like this with “NHL Now,” have an annual all-female show. It’s kind of fun, right? It’s like part of our identity with DAZN. Like, we’re always trying to break the mold a little bit and have fun.
SN: That’s very cool. So tell me what you have planned for the show.
GARDNER: We have five separate reporters joining us.
GARDNER: Yeah, it’s amazing. It really is an all-female cast. We have Sophia Minneart with Milwaukee and then Heidi Watney, Kelly Nash and Sarah Langs will all be in-studio. And Meredith Marakovits with the Yankees will be joining us as well, via FaceTime. So we have all these incredible intelligent, informed, strong women who are great at covering their respective teams who are going to join us. And you know, also gonna have a fun twist on it, because I don’t think we should take herself too seriously. This is sports.
SN: That’s kind of the field that “ChangeUp” has anyway, right?
GARDNER: Right? You’ve joined us on the show. We’re very self-deprecating. We get the job done, but we do it in a way where we’re kind of representing the fan at home who’s watching from their couch.
SN: So what does it mean for you to be a part of this? It’s really cool to be part of it, I imagine.
GARDNER: You know, I think it’s one of those situations where you may not even know at the time – even you asking kind of, like, makes you take a step back and try and put things in perspective – because when you’re in it you’re like, “Oh, I got to do a show with my friend and this is cool. She really knows herself and she’s quick and she’s witty and she fits the mold of exactly what we want to do here with ‘ChangeUp.'” But, yeah, it is. How would you put this, Ryan? Not blazing a trail, but it definitely hasn’t really been done before. You don’t really have two women in studio doing live whiparound show.
SN: Right. I was thinking about that. I talked with (ESPN analyst) Jessica Mendoza a couple months ago, and I asked her that question, something along the lines. And she said for her, it’s about knowing that she’s showing future generations that it can be done . It’s just showing that it can be done and hopefully at some point it’s not unusual.
GARDNER: Not worthy of mentioning.
GARDNER: I think that’s what’s so interesting about it. I grew up playing softball and was a huge Rockies fan and, obviously, just a fan of sports in general. And Jackie was in that same boat. And we’re just doing what we love. This is very natural and organic for us. I was kind of surprised by the response that I received when I was covering the Avalanche, parents and mothers and even little girls would come up and say, like, “You have inspired me or my daughter to get into this and you’ve shown them that it’s possible to not only be a woman in sports but go above and beyond the stereotypes.” You can host the pre- and postgame and you can be yourself. You don’t have to be this robot, so to speak. So I think it’s really refreshing and encouraging to hear that people will see us just being our authentic selves and know like, “Oh, wow, this is possible.” And hopefully we’ll just make it more of a common occurrence then the anomaly.
SN: So let me ask you this: “ChangeUp” started back at the beginning of the season and we’re in the middle of August now. What have you learned about the show, about yourself over these last couple of months?
GARDNER: As cliche as it is, I’ve learned that you just be you, and at the end of the day, I think that’s when you’re at your best, when you’re not thinking about it and when you’re just being organic and authentic and you’re fully present in the moment, because it’s kind of what we have to do, right? We’re reacting to these games. I played the sport and I’ve been around the sport quite a bit, but transitioning from recently covering hockey and hosting a fantasy football show, just getting familiar with all the players and the teams and the storylines, it was a bit of a learning curve, but more than anything, what stuck out was just that there’s nothing better than just being your authentic self. And when that comes through it’s such a fun experience to share with your coworker and hopefully, the viewers. I mean, how lucky are we? I think I’ve also realized like I’m really, really fortunate to be doing this for a living.
Source: Read Full Article