ESPN’s ‘NHL Tonight’ host visits QU

By on October 9, 2003

ESPN anchor John Buccigross was at Quinnipiac for a speech and question and answer session for a journalism class on September 29.

Buccigross, who is the co-host for ESPN’s Hockey Tonight, spoke for approximately an hour and a half to Assistant Professor of Journalism Karin Schwanbeck’s upper level journalism class.

Buccigross has been on-air for 14 years, with the last seven being at ESPN. He stressed acquiring a knowledge and passion for the news when reporting.

“[You] can’t fake substance, knowledge, and passion,” he said. “The best reporters have that passion for the sport.”

Buccigross stressed reading books to increase knowledge and expose future writers to different viewpoints in life. While he stated that he enjoys reading websites and books on the NHL, Buccigross said he is always reading different topics to be more well-rounded anchorman.

“Reading is the most important thing in life,” he said. “I find it hard to be successful in a competitive area without reading.”

According to Buccigross, one key to the business is being prepared. He said that all the best analysts watch the games, read the paper and do their homework about the game.

Buccigross provided some insight to students about how tough the broadcast journalism field really is. He pointed to the long hours and low pay that he had to endure at the start of his career.

“Most people quit or don’t stick it out,” he said. “Is the love of the craft or business worth sticking it out for the beginning pay.”

“Some people are lucky [and] make it right away,” he continued. “People like myself struggled [with] long hours and carrying my own camera. You’re making $15,000 to $16,000 a year and living on Government Cheese.”

According to Buccigross, the business is also tough because production is a necessity. He pointed to his streak of not calling in sick in 14 years as proof of his desire to produce.

“I have to create value by producing,” he said. “I don’t care about [ESPN] because I know they don’t care about me.”

Since taking over the NHL Tonight co-hosting duties, Buccigross has seen an increase in personal input for the show. With a new producer, Buccigross hopes to make the show more conversational and go beyond just scores and highlights.

According to Buccigross, all ESPN anchors write their own on-air material. When writing his material he tries to make himself stand out without trying too hard.

This advice came in handy during his interview, as he had to complete a ten-minute SportsCenter episode himself.

Buccigross is known for comparing athletes to lead singers of bands during NHL Tonight. His co-host on the show is former NHL coach Barry Melrose.

“[We have] a Canadian Ham and egg [show],” he said.

A graduate of Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, Buccigross worked at a Cape Cod television station for five years before ESPN. He made a few mistakes during his time there.

“A couple ‘f-bombs,'” he said. “It was cable.”

Buccigross grew up in Pennslyvania listening to Boston Bruins hockey games on the radio. He lists Ray Bourque winning the Stanley Cup as his greatest moment as a professional.


About Tyler Tessier