When Denver takes on Arizona on "Thursday Night Football," Broncos fans can choose to flip off the FOX broadcast and head to Amazon Prime for a different viewing experience. Emmy Award-winning journalist Andrea Kremer and ESPN anchor and veteran broadcaster Hannah Storm team up every Thursday night to broadcast "TNF" for Amazon Prime, and the Broncos' game against the Cardinals is their next assignment. This fall, the pair became the first female duo to call an NFL game, and there's plenty of reasons why people keep turning in to the Kremer-Storm broadcast. The tandem has found its own voice and style — while still keeping the focus on the game — and Thursday offers the next opportunity to watch. We caught up with Kremer and Storm about the challenges of calling a game while relying on another network's broadcast, how production meetings can change when a team is on a losing skid and what the pair thinks are the keys to Thursday's game.
Aric DiLalla: "I know from reading a little bit about your broadcast that you guys are focusing more on storytelling. So I'm wondering, if a Broncos fan chooses to watch the game on Amazon on Thursday, how should they expect this broadcast to be different from a more traditional television broadcast?"
Andrea Kremer: "I think the storytelling thing can get kind of misconstrued a little bit, because I think when people think of storytelling, they think of, oh wow, we're talking about somebody growing up in Mississippi or what their background was in that respect. That's not necessarily what we're talking about. I think it's important to just keep in mind that we're telling the story of the game and the story of the men that play and coach the game. We're never far from the game. We don't get away from what's happening in the game. We view it differently, because we're both career-long storytellers, journalists — covering news, covering sports obviously. …
"As Al Michaels said to me, 'Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the people listening don't really understand what it is anyway.' So we're telling you what's going on. Hannah is telling you play by play of what's going on. I'm giving my version of analysis. But we also do it through the prism of storytelling. It's not this idea like, 'Wow, I'm just going to hear a lot of stories about the players and I'm not going to have any idea about what's going on in the game.' That couldn't be further from the truth."
Hannah Storm: "I think that a lot of what we do is derivative of either the current conversations that we're having with players or coaches, or, we've had a lot of experience with different people on these different teams, and also — obviously as all broadcasters do — we do a lot of research. … If you would picture it like you were at home watching a game with one of your pals and you were saying, 'Hey did you know that so and so ... '. … It's kind of like it's Andrea and I were hanging out at home on a couch watching a game and maybe more of like the conversation that we might be having about it. And at times you'll see us go right into the traditional mode when there's a big drive or they're in the red zone, two-minute drill, all those kinds of things. I think we bounce back and forth a lot between that and a super conversational style. We're just us. I'm not sure what to tell people what to expect other than it's just us being ourselves and talking about the game and the things that we find interesting."
AD: "I would imagine you've gotten more comfortable as you've called the games?"
HS: "We're calling them basically off a world feed, so we only have one camera angle. We're calling them off the program feed. So we haven't seen graphics, we don't know when the announcers are going to pop up on camera. There are a lot of production elements that we're just handling on the fly. We might be talking about something and they might be showing something else. … There's a unique set of challenges, but we're having a great time."
AK: "The other thing, Aric, that I think you have to keep in mind, is that we're an option. … You've got the Spanish-speaking [audio feed], you've got the UK feed with two British soccer announcers, of course you've got the FOX feed and then you've got the Hannah and Andrea feed. We're an option for people. One of the first things that the Amazon folks said to us is, 'We don't want you to be Joe [Buck] and Troy [Aikman].' And Hannah and I ... there's no way we can be Joe and Troy. We don't aspire to be that. We have to be ourselves. … If we try to be somebody else, or try to do a broadcast to approximate somebody else, it would be a disaster, and that's not at all what we want to do, nor, more importantly, is what Amazon wants us to do. They want us to be different. They want us to be an option — not better or worse — just another option."
AD: "Some of our fans may not be familiar with what a production meeting is like. Having done many during your career, are there challenges when a team is on a losing streak to get them to engage in those meetings or share stories?"
HS: "I think that if you are at the level of, say, being the head coach of an NFL team, you understand the ebbs and flows of the business, as do players. And so, where there might be a lot of outside noise with two teams that are struggling — the Broncos and Cardinals — and there's certainly a lot of talk and a lot of opinions about what they need to do and how they play the game, usually when you go and talk to the individuals who are in the middle of that, they're pretty calm. They really understand exactly what needs to be done. They understand the talent level that they have and why it may or may not be playing to the best of its potential. And they also understand that solutions aren't as simple and knee-jerk as they might seem from the outside. When you talk to a team that's struggling, usually it's a pretty nuanced conversation."
AD: "Compared to other game broadcasts the two of you have worked on, how is the preparation different?"
HS: "Time-wise, it's more concentrated because it's a Thursday-night schedule. … Our schedule kind of mirrors that of the teams. It's a little more intense, because we're dealing with a really, truly, a Sunday-to-Thursday timetable instead of Sunday to Sunday."
AK: "Exactly. Our games are Thursday to Thursday, but really we do a lot of background prep leading into the Sunday games, but then really everything changes once you see what happens in this particular game. It could be from an injury standpoint or whatever it is. It's a really, really truncated schedule. … I think we've both worked hard in our careers, obviously, but I think that this is a whole new level. It's definitely a challenge, and each week we're learning to manage it better and better."
HS: "And by the way, we both have other jobs, too. This is the ultimate balance. I'm on ESPN on Saturday, Sunday and Monday ... and Andrea's flying around shooting interviews. So we're definitely doing a balancing act here, as well."
AD: "From the research you've been able to do so far leading to Thursday, what do you think the keys are to the Broncos ending a losing streak and grabbing a win Thursday?
AK: "Well, I think that they need to get some consistency on both sides of the ball, there's no question about that. It was great to see some of the defensive players like Bradley Chubb really start to step up a little bit, as he did last week. They moved him around, and I think they started to have success with that. Offensively, obviously you've got a lot of injuries on the offensive line, which presents all kinds of issues, especially for a running game that you're trying to get going. There's just been so much inconsistency with the team, and then there's a lot of expectation. When you lose four straight games, the chatter starts and you have to put those blinders on, and you have to completely shut that out. Case Keenum is a veteran, but when you go out for concussion protocol and your backup comes in to take a kneel down at the end of the half and he gets cheered, that's a difficult situation to be in. … I think that they just have got to try to establish some kind of offensive consistency and rhythm, and then they have to be more disciplined — whether it's Garett Bolles with the holding calls, whether it's Emmanuel Sanders with just a silly penalty. ...
"I think overall defensively, they probably played the Rams as well as any team has this season — certainly held them to the lowest point total. And no one's going to confuse the Rams' and the Cardinals' offenses, that's for sure. But they've also had their challenges on the road. In some ways, even though the win-loss records are different, I think there's a lot of similarities in these teams in terms of they both really, really need a win, if nothing else [but] to shut out the conversation."
HS: "Let me just add this, because I feel like you could've asked this question last week about the Giants and the Eagles, two teams that arguably had to win to try to get a foothold there in their division. Both were struggling, and it's funny, because I'm having a little bit of déjà vu in what we're hearing. And what you hear in cases like this is the term 'self-inflicted wound.' We're hearing it from the Broncos, we're hearing it from the Cardinals. There are a lot of things within your power that you can do ... to right the ship and play at your full potential. … You just have to maintain that attitude and not worry too much that the sky is falling, that everyone around you is panicking. That happens when the standards of an organization are high. And they're high with the Broncos. They are. The Broncos have a different standard of expectations than other teams do because of their past success. That's the good news."
This interview has been edited for clarity and length. To watch Kremer and Storm's broadcast, head to the game stream on Amazon Prime, and then select the Kremer-Storm audio stream on the audio settings.