By Heather Douglass
If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon that is “The Dan Patrick Show,” you are truly missing out. You might also live a life void of television and radio because it’s pretty hard not to at least stumble upon the show. It’s a radio show that can also be seen on television. Dan Patrick left ESPN to do his own thing and he brought a few of his friends with him.
At ProjectShanks.com, we are huge fans of “The Dan Patrick Show” which makes it an honor to talk to one of the guys that followed Dan to what has become the promised land and embraced a role affectionally known as a “Danette.” Patrick ‘Seton’ O’Connor took some time and sat down with Heather Douglass of PSDC to discuss the behind the scenes of the show, his interests outside of sports and much more. Enjoy.
How did you get into this line of work?
I always had a passion for music and knew I couldn’t really cut it as a guitar player, so I thought radio seemed like a good option. I started as an intern for the morning show at a classic station in Hartford, working from 5:30-12:00 p.m. there, and would then work out on the runway at the local airport from 1:00-10:00 p.m. I would also board op the Rick Dees Countdown on another station and work for the promotion department on the weekends. Did that for nine months or so. I got my first shot on-air by dumb luck, being in the right place at the right time. A former girlfriend worked for a competing station and I went with her to an event they were having with Colby Donaldson of Survivor. The overnight jock called out sick that night about an hour before his shift. In a pinch, the Program Director decided to give me a shot on-air, and my radio career was off from there. I didn’t get into sports until years later.
Tell us about meeting Dan Patrick for the first time.
I was working at ESPN for a while, bouncing around from show to show, and eventually got put onto Dan’s show full time. Within a month or two, the lead producer of the show left ESPN, and I was asked to hold down the fort until they hired a replacement. Dan barely even knew me, before I knew it, I was flying all over the country with him and producing his show. That is where we really got to know each other – having beers in airport bars.
Was it a difficult decision to jump away from The Mothership when Dan went solo?
Was it difficult? Yes and no… I mean, I was certainly nervous in leaving that organization. When I was giving my two-week notice, part of me was still thinking, “Am I really doing this?” ESPN is a destination job, not one you walk away from. But the opportunity to build a show from the ground up with someone like Dan Patrick comes around once in a lifetime. There is no question I made the right choice. This experience with Dan and the guys has been absolutely amazing.
They always show a brief moment of the pre-show talk… tell us how that goes down.
We know we have to sit down and go over the show – stories, guests, etc. Dan likes to get a feel for what we are really hot on and what angles we want to hit on the show. We hit all the serious stuff, but then we usually just try to make each other laugh. If the group laughs, it’s on the show rundown. I once heard in a Beastie Boys interview they try and make each other laugh with their lyrics. We pretty much try to do the same thing.
You’re musical fingerprints are all over the show. If you could invite one musical guest to perform in studio, who ya’ got?
It’s hard to not answer this as a producer. You always think show first. I’ll say U2. Dan is a tremendous fan, and they are pretty much the biggest band in the world so… Personally, I’d say Radiohead, or somehow find a way to get Nirvana. I never got to see them live, and I have always regretted that.
You’re an unabashed Yankee fan. Name one Yankee who got hosed by the team and fans, one of your favs who never got his due.
Jeepers creepers … I’ve got two. Phil Rizzito didn’t get the night off from calling games for Mickey Mantle’s funeral. I always thought that was so cruel. David Wells… I was crushed when he was traded away. He was a guy you could tell LOVED being a Yankee. He threw a perfect game in pinstripes. He had fun. It’s supposed to be fun, ya know? I like players who have that perspective and appreciate those moments.
Has fatherhood changed your approach to your job or the show?
It’s changed in the fact… here. Erin – my lovely wife – is a Boston fan. Like we just talked about, I’m in pinstripes… but it’s not like that’s REALLY an issue. The issue is what team our son is going to root for. There is definitely an unspoken, but very real battle for his fandom. In sports, it often feels like you struggle for perspective, and this experience – on the show and becoming a father – has made me more conscious of that. You’re more humanized. You separate. You’re more respectful. Kids have… they have this crazy power to throw your entire day away and bring you to your knees. You have such a range of emotions in any given day. It’s truly a gift.
You run all of the social media for the show, correct? Which community is your favorite & why?
I wouldn’t say I run it, necessarily, but I definitely helped get our social media presence off the ground and remain active in expanding it. Twitter is my favorite. Facebook feels a bit too personal, so I focus more on Twitter. It’s a great resource for news, comedy, pretty much anything. The only downside is it tends to get pretty negative there. Either way, the interaction with people is a ton of fun.
Tell us one sacrifice the show had to make for translation to TV… if there are any.
I don’t think the show as a whole has sacrificed anything. The only real change I made is that I stopped cutting my own hair and started paying for haircuts. I figured being in my 30s and on TV, I should probably start getting a real haircut. I’m a little more conscious of my shape too. haha
Fill in the blank. Your favorite guest host is…
I think Mike Florio does a great job. Chris Mannix too. I wish we could get Rich Eisen in here more. The best guests hosts tend to be people who have a relationship with Dan, people ‘get’ the show. They can step right in and go. They know McLovin and his role, Fritzy, etc.
Is there one interview that stains your memory for all the wrong reasons?
The Tonya Harding interview is a classic. ‘Hold on a second, Paul wants to talk to you.’ Another is Tommy Morrison. It was just so bizarre. At one point, he said he was going to ‘praise God all the way to the bank.’ What does that even mean? Dutch Daulton talking about parallel universes and wet dreams. I don’t even know how we got there.
The biggest challenge few realize in taking the show from the mothership to Dan’s house was?
I’m not sure we can stress enough how bare bones the operation was at the start. We had to build the entire thing from scratch. Even things like if we had the right phone lines and enough power to do the show, working with local town officials for permits, etc. It was insane, but somehow we pulled it off.
Ever been recognized by and connected with a guest of the show in public?
The first time I met Rich Eisen I shook his hand and said ‘Hi, I’m Seton.’ He replied back to me ‘I know who you are…’ It was funny because for some reason it never dawned on me that he would know who I was. That was the first time I realized people knew us.
If you met a guy who said he hated Dan and hated the show but was cordial in doing so and invited conversation, what one thing would you share to turn him?
I probably wouldn’t try to turn him. Some people love the show, some people hate it. I would be curious to see if the reasons for this person’s dislike of the show were valid or misdirected. Rarely are people cordial in hating you.
Dan might never say it, but do you feel he has a favorite guest?
I really can’t point to one specific guest, but one that stands out is Jerry West. He and Dan always have amazing conversations, and he is one of Dan’s heroes. You can tell there is a ton of mutual respect there.
Is your golf game improving with the simulator?
I didn’t have a game before the golf simulator. I had never even been out on a real course before. I’m very fortunate to have the sim though because my in-laws are big golfers. While I’m still the worst of our foursome, I can almost hold my own, which wouldn’t have been possible before.
Why won’t the other Danettes challenge Dan at the hoop?
I’m not sure. I’m surprised McLovin isn’t more active on the court with Dan, but he is always so awkward about it, maybe that has scared him off. Maybe the other guys are actually busy working?
If you could do “Song of the Day” on ProjectShanks.com, what would a few of your samplings be?
Lately, I have been listening to a band from San Francisco called Ceremony. Their latest ‘Zoo’ came out a little while back, but I’m just getting around to it. They take me back to my hardcore punk days, but don’t make me feel old. I still totally connect to the energy. Try World Blue, Adult or Citizen for starters.