Q&A with NESN’s Dale Arnold

One of the most accomplished members of the Boston sports media is Dale Arnold. Arnold is currently working with NESN, hosting NESN Daily and pre/post game coverage of Bruins games. Previously he co-hosted The Dale & Holley Show show middays on WEEI, although he still hosts weekend shows, including NFL Sunday on Sunday mornings. Before coming onto the Boston scene he did play-by-play for the New Jersey Devils for two seasons. Arnold, a graduate of Bowdoin College is the only person in Boston sports history to do play-by-play broadcasts for all five of the area’s major professional sports franchises. Boston Sports Media Watch had the chance to catch up with Arnold, touching on a number of subjects.

Dale Arnold is the only person to call play-by-play for all five of the major Boston sports teams.

Dale Arnold is the only person to have done play-by-play for all five of the major Boston sports teams.

BSMW: What does it mean to be the only person in history to call play-by-play for all five major Boston sports teams?

In some cases, guys like Curt Gowdy, guys like that could have done anything but there was no soccer when they were around. I was lucky enough to be here when there were five teams to do. Now that there’s lacrosse I should have tried to work that in there as well. The fact that no one’s ever done it, all five teams, means a lot to me that I was able to pull it off.

BSMW: Do you have a favorite moment or game that you’ve called?

It’s so hard. There were individual things here and there. The Red Sox last game of the regular season in Baltimore (2011) wasn’t a favorite, but it was memorable. The Doug Flutie “icky balloky” game wasn’t a favorite, but it was memorable in that regard. I’ve had the opportunity to do some games that mattered in the NHL both here and in New Jersey. Truly if I looked back on the whole thing, from start to finish the most fun I had doing a game was a Maine Mariners-Sokol Kiev (from the then Soviet Union) game. It was the end of the Cold War, and the Russian’s just started coming over. I worked with a state department translator for about a month to get the pronunciations, and just being able to do that was unique at the time.

BSMW: You’ve called play-by-play, hosted radio shows, anchored television shows and worked pre and post game shows. Do you have a favorite or a preference?

Anybody who has done play-by-play will always tell you they always think of themselves as a play-by-play announcer. I mean I like a lot of the other things, I enjoy doing the radio, I’ve enjoyed hosting Bruins, but there is something about calling a game live, for guys who do it they’ll tell you it’s the most fun they have.

BSMW: Everyone knows what happened at WEEI a few years ago, are you happy with the way things turned out at NESN, or do you wish you were on the radio everyday?

I wish I was doing both. I’m thankful for NESN because they gave me an opportunity to stay in the market and do something that I really love, but it’s not like it’s an either or proposition. The time frame of doing Bruins and the time frame of when you host middays you could do both easily.

BSMW: How long did it take you to get over not being on the radio everyday?

I’m not over it now. It’s something that I liked, egotistically I thought I was reasonably good at it. I wish I was still doing it now.

BSMW: You’ve worked with a number of different people over the years, do you have a favorite person you’ve worked alongside?

Probably Michael (Holley). Neumy (Bob Neumeier), he and I got along great and I don’t mean to slight him when I say that, but Michael and I developed a pretty unique and pretty interesting chemistry. I thought it worked pretty well.

BSMW: What are your future plans? There have been rumors of you being interested in the play-by-play gig with the Patriots, would you be interested in going back there?

What rumors? … Nobody has ever asked me. I am not sure that there is a rumor that’s true, no one has ever asked me. As I’ve said, anyone who has been a play-by-play announcer thinks of themselves as a play-by-play announcer. I enjoyed the time I had with the Patriots, the three years I was there. I am certainly a different, and better broadcaster now than I was then, that was a long time ago. Like I said, nobody has ever talked to me about it, nobody has ever said anything to me about it.

BSMW: What are your thoughts on the NHL lockout and do you think there will be a season?

I do. Maybe I am just whistling past the graveyard here, I guess I think they are too close to kiss off a season at this stage. I mean my feeling is that they are not that far apart. I’m not sure they are as close as Donald Fehr says, but I also don’t think they are as far apart as Gary Bettman says. Everybody I’ve talked to in the hockey media, everybody I’ve talked to in the hockey community, is convinced that somewhere around December 31 or January 1 there will be a deal and they will be playing again.

You can follow Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84

  • Evil Stacey james

    Dale Arnold is the worst of the worst. Condescending soccer mom.

  • whitey b

    Dale Arnold is a big turd!

  • tl;138

    I still don’t get this guy’s appeal. Sure he’s knowledgeable but he certainly doesn’t have the pipes and his uber-nice guy personal is grating (to go along with his grating voice).

  • http://twitter.com/saundep PS

    So is Dale waiting for someone to ask him to tryout for the Patriots job? Hold your breath Dale!! He and Zo would be like oil and water. I really did enjoy him with Holley. They definitely had a rapport. I think the reason he was let go was because he wasn’t “Edgy” enough. By Edgy I mean he wasn’t contrarian enough like Felger, Maz or the Big O.

  • latetodinner

    I don’t understand the dislike for Dale. When he is in charge of a show he covers topical subjects, in a thoughtful manner. His shows move through callers well and don’t get bogged down with cult of personality type calls like Big O, Mike Adams, DA or Gresh and Zo do. He always does his homework. Sometimes I agree with him. Sometimes I don’t. But for 15 years in that midday slot I knew his show would be interesting. He was the closest thing this market had to Chuck Wilson.

    All shows now are contrarian to the point of absurdity. Dale did not need to be a contrarian to generate conversation…he used research and interesting opinions to get the calls coming. He was rewarded with 1 great partner (Neumy) and two awful partners (Eddie and Holly) and yet no matter who he was paired with his ratings were remarkably consistent. He was the constant. I still think WEEI made a mistake pulling him after the loyalty he showed them regarding the Bruins.

    Having said all of that…I think his NESN work is blah. It is not the best vehicle for him. He does not add anything to play by play or in studio 3 minute round table discussions. He is much better at long form expository which is what midday talk radio is.

    • dan

      I agree with you on his radio work. How Dale Arnold does a show is a rarity in most of all media now!
      Respectful,thoughtful and interested in others opinions and willing to change his mind when presented with cold hard facts.

      And on the Pats gig…he tried really hard to brush any suggestion that he has been asked to do the Pats gig which leads me to believe he is in the mix.

    • RIck Mc

      I agree with your general description of his attitude. He did avoid the contrived BS of the rest of sports talk and talked about most sports.

      The problem with Dale is that he is best described as milquetoast. He offers only the most conservative of opinions. He is condescending to callers. He sucks up to whomever is paying him. He defending hockey owners during the 2004 lockout to the death without even a basic understanding of the issue. When he was fired from NESN he suddenly found the balls to criticize Bruins management. With Holley he tried to act “hip” in some manner that was in no way genuine.

      He will talk about a lot of sports topics and avoid the screaming BS. That doesn’t mean that he knows what he is talking about.

      • latetodinner

        See, I never expect the hosts to be experts. I expect them to be moderators. I think Dale was exceptional at that. I think Boston Sports Talk has become significantly worse because he is no longer part of it. As for the bland/milquetoast criticism…that is what makes him not Felger. He understood that his role was not to be the story, but rather to set the parameters and then get out of the way of the conversation…doing just enough to keep it moving forward. Lastly, I look at his public loyalty to his employer as refreshing. He was professional enough not to bite the hand that was feeding him. Contrast that to the steady stream of trash Felger talks about the Bob Kraft or the Celtics. If you really want milquetoast look at Dale’s old partner Mike Holly. Try spending 60 seconds listening to him talk Patriots…it is so bland.

        • Rick Mc

          Not biting the hand the feeds him is a compliment? He was a suck up, bought and paid for. That’s a virtue? Christ, you are thick.

        • latetodinner

          You think I am thick because I appreciate employee loyalty. I am guessing you are not management. You may not like his position and his unwillingness to criticize his employer…that’s your prerogative. You knew what his situation was and you knew how he would approach being critical, yet you are angry because he did not burn down the house. Your expectations are and were out of whack. I find your position to unfortunately resonate with the unwashed masses who prefer Felger’s brand of contrarianism. Go to the extreme, scream and yell, don’t bother to understand the situation or worse discuss it…just pontificate with a “hot take”. Let me reiterate, I did not listen to Dale for his opinion. I listened to his show for his ability to moderate, facilitate and generate conversation. I am quite capable of making up my own opinions.

        • RIck Mc

          The Bruins were not his employer. And by not criticizing the Bruins he was disloyal to his main employer, WEEI. Further, when Dale was ever criticized for being soft on the Bruins he never claimed that he was doing it out of some duty he owed to the Bruins. He was a fraud and would never admit that he was in the bag for the Bruins.

    • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

      “All shows now are contrarian to the point of absurdity. Dale did not need to be a contrarian to generate conversation”

      To what Rick said, is this the way every host has to go? If you look at where ESPN is going, and their gravitational pull is something you can’t ignore, “milquetoast” hosts can’t survive. To me, a good host does what he does where he’s informed but managing whomever is interacting (guests, studio people, callers, etc). So, I’d fall in with ltd’s response below.

      Is midday supposed to be “long form expository” ? I thought that would be left for evening and something on weekends.

  • ZipfromNorwood

    He carried the Jacobs family water for years.

  • Ryan

    I don’t understand the hatrid of Dale. He never came off as a overbearing contrarion or arrogant to me. I liked that the show was differet fom the others

  • bholmes

    dweeb arnold. dr. boring. king of the conventional wisdom.

  • GRBSPR

    I love it when sports media hacks play into our hands and describe themselves as ‘egotistical.’ Put the word ‘Insufferably’ in front of it and you’ve described thin-skinned Arnold to a T.

  • http://www.bostonsportsmediawatch.com/ bsmfan

    News has been slow so I’ll post this:

    Direct photo link:
    http://i.imgur.com/h1qwG.jpg

    Article:
    http://www.pictureboston.com/blog/?p=2205

    Photo caption:

    Bill Belichick is driven past a waiting press corps by Patriots’
    owner Robert Kraft in this 1997 photo. Does it look like a still from the movie The Godfather? The reason I snapped this photo, I think, was to provide Herald coverage after the Pat’s lost the Superbowl. With me, from top left, New England Patriots PR good-guy Stacy James, the Boston Herald’s Michael Felger, Gary Gillis and several other sports media types.

  • Frank

    I always liked Dale. I much prefer his even keeled approach to that of the sky is falling idiots that are more prevalent on the radio today.