BU Professor Michael Holley debuts New Sports Show, Brother from Another | BU Today
Michael Holley has spent nearly three decades as a sports reporter, columnist, book author, and on-air personality, with the majority of his career in the Boston sports market, at the Boston Globe, WEEI, and NBC Sports Boston. In 2018, he joined BU’s College of Communication as an associate professor of the practice of journalism.
In the midst of unprecedented action, protest, and change in sports both locally and nationally, Holley and his former Globe colleague Michael Smith are teaming up to host a daily sports talk show, titled Brother from Another. The name is a play on the phrase “brother from another mother,” which Holley and Smith use to describe their relationship, one that began as a Globe mentorship and grew into a brotherhood, even beyond their time working together.
“Brother from Another” debuted on September 14 and airs weekdays from 3 to 5 pm on Peacock, NBC’s new streaming platform.
In a conversation with BU Today after the first show Holley shared the story behind Brother from Another, his vision for the show, and his thoughts on hot topics around Boston sports.
With Michael Holley
BU Today: Your new show, Brother from Another, just debuted on Peacock, the new streaming service from NBC. How did the show come about?
Michael Holley: Honestly, it came out of nowhere. I’m working at NBC Sports Boston, and the program director came to me and said, “I want to run something by you. Peacock wants to do some programming. What do you think about Peacock?”
They asked me if I wanted to work with anybody, and Michael was really the only person I wanted to work with. I would want to work with him every day to do the kind of show that I want to do, where you don’t really feel like it’s all sports, it’s not all culture, it’s not all politics—it’s everything. It takes a special kind of person to do that kind of show, and not only somebody who can do that, but somebody that you want to work with.
What are some of the topics you hope to explore on the show?
I’m going to quote a poem on this one. I had a poem that said, “I write life.” And so that’s what it is, it’s just life. My life is connected to sports in a lot of ways, so that’s primarily what it’s going to be, but my life is also connected to my wife, and our children, and music, and teaching, and all of these things that are part of me.
I think what’s happening in this business, or in general, is that people don’t have to compartmentalize themselves when they approach a job. I’m not interested in slicing myself up into quarters or eighths to make people comfortable. I’m very excited about bringing my whole self to a show.
I’m not interested in slicing myself up into quarters or eighths to make people comfortable. I’m very excited about bringing my whole self to a show.
How is this show different from other shows you’ve done?
Michael and I both have executive producer credits on the show, so we’re crafting the vision, we are making hiring decisions, we are invested in a show that we have envisioned. I’ve never been in that position before.
The other thing is, I’ve always been told who I’m going to be working with, but this is a case where I haven’t been told who I’m working with—I’ve chosen who I’m going to work with. Think about how liberating that feels and how empowering that is—to do something that you love and do it with someone you love.
How do you prepare to host a daily sports talk show?
The prep is pretty constant. We start around 8:30 in the morning, and we do a call—not to talk about what we’re going to say, but to talk about what’s out there. At 10 o’clock we have a call with producers and graphics people who just want to get a sense of what we’re going through.
I think, honestly, it’s unlike anything that they’ve experienced because what a lot of them are used to doing is radio producing or TV producing. In most TV shows, they’re used to “What’s the rundown? What’s the A block? What’s the B block?” And we’re saying, “No, it doesn’t work like that.” This is a show about losing control. This show is free-flowing. It’s loose.
When I get back to teaching, man, watch out, students. I’m all about taking away structure, but most students should be used to that because look what just happened with the last semester. That was the most anti-structured semester in the history of Boston University.
Aside from the show, what else have you been working on?
I was very late on a Celtics book on the Big Three—Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce—pretty much about the rebirth of the Celtics. But I finished it, and it’s coming out in December. It was a journey with that book. The first note I took on that book was in 2012, and as I was looking through some emails—one of the emails that I got was, “Hey, congratulations on the new addition to your family,” and that was my daughter, who’s eight years old.
Let’s talk about the Patriots. It’s their first season in 20 years without Tom Brady, but they won their first game. What are your expectations for the team this season?
I think the Patriots are going to be in really good shape, and I didn’t always feel that way, but I felt that way recently. With the Patriots, what you’re talking about is somebody in [head coach Bill] Belichick [Hon.’04] who has created a program that is so rock-solid, and so well-thought-out, and so strategic that it can survive the loss of the greatest player ever.
I’m not saying they’ll be as good as they were with Tom Brady, but they will survive it enough to be functional, because there are so many other parts of the operation. They have been so organized, so thoughtful, so meticulous, so detail-oriented that they’ve been able to advance past some teams that have had more talent, and I think that’s what’s going to happen this year. They’ve got the wild card. They’ve got Bill Belichick.
Which Boston sports team do you think will be the next to win a championship?
Probably the Celtics. I think their young talent is emerging at just the right time, and they’ll have their group together for a while. They’re going to have Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker together for a long time, so if they don’t get it this year, they’re going to have two or three more opportunities to win a championship.