As SportsNet LA has added to their talented team since launching the exclusive network in 2014, studio anchor John Hartung has been one of the constants in their unparalleled coverage of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Save for occasional and well-earned off days throughout the course of a 162-game season, Hartung is regularly flanked by the likes of Nomar Garciaparra, Jerry Hairston Jr. or Ned Colletti for “Leadoff LA” and “Access SportsNet: Dodgers.”
Several hours before Hartung takes his seat in the studio, he can be found at his desk poring over the details and notes for that night’s game. He makes any necessary additions or revisions to the rundowns and roughly one hour before going on air, meets with a producer and analysts.
It’s a process Hartung worked to refine after making the jump from ABC to Spectrum. He spent over 11 years at the local station, working both as a sports anchor and weekend news host. A lifelong Dodgers fan, signing on to help lead the network’s coverage was a pinch-me moment.
“It was kind of a dream opportunity for me to come here,” Hartung told DodgerBlue.com during an exclusive visit to SportsNet LA’s studios to observe his role and .
While Hartung had an established background, joining SportsNet LA nonetheless required a bit of learning curve in that his focus now lied on one team. “And doing a show that’s a lot different,” Hartung noted.
“We’re doing 60-minute pregame shows and 30 to 60-minute postgame shows as well. That format was something that I was unaccustomed to, so it was new for me but it was a lot of fun (to learn). It was a chance to grow as well.
“There was an adjustment period of managing my time and figuring which areas to target first when I’m prepping for a show and writing a show.”
The transition has been seamless, which is a testament to Hartung’s vast knowledge and passion for the Dodgers, as well as his strong work ethic.
As much as Hartung is lauded for his preparation, the ability to remain flexible is key to SportsNet LA’s postgame coverage. He will begin taking notes and outline a direction for the show, however, as anyone who is familiar with baseball is aware, a game can turn at any moment.
“There’s no clock. So we see wild comebacks happen, and we’ve got things we think we’re going to talk about on the postgame show and then next thing you know the ‘Absolute Madness’ game happens,” Hartung said.
Just as important is the chemistry that’s been developed with Colletti, Garciaparra and Hairston, and Chase Utley who is in the early stages of his broadcasting career. Their connection is readily apparent both in the hallways at SportsNet LA and whenever watching their programming on television.
“It’s been great. He’s the first guy I worked with when I first started doing the TV thing,” Hairston said.
“Basically in basketball terms, he’s the point guard, and we feed off of him. He’s done an excellent job of bringing me, Nomar, Ned and other guys along. He makes our jobs a whole lot easier.”
Garciaparra was similarly effusive of Hartung, saying, “It’s been a blast. It’s so fun to go to work, it really is. Early on, we all got along so it’s been really easy. Everybody is so professional and works hard. He’s as good as they get.
“You see a guy who has to be able to control the timing, control everything that’s going on, control all of our antics and personalities. What’s cool is he’s a fan, too, and he enjoys it. He’s the one who brings the energy into the broadcast because he’s talking early and sets the tone.”
While Garciaparra and Hairston are appreciative of the direction Hartung provides, he revels in allowing the analysts to show their personalities. “It’s really easy for me,” Hartung said.
“At this point having done it and worked with these guys for so long, I sit there and tee them up on something and watch them go.”