Since the 2014 ASP season began this January, sweeping changes have been underway in the world of professional surfing thanks to ZoSea Media’s acquisition of the ASP. But it’s quite possible that the biggest shake-ups are still to come. With ZoSea’s background in mainstream sports and broadcasting, their real aim has always been to revolutionize the way the world watches surfing and to bring ASP events to a wider audience. Now, with the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast kicking off the WCT in less than two weeks, the first noticeable changes in that department have finally come. Last night, the ASP announced an official broadcast commentary team for the 2014 World Championship Tour. "For the first time in ASP history, we’ll have a dedicated and consistent team for the sport," explained ASP Senior Vice President Jed Pearson. Comprising that team will be Pat Parnell, Joe Turpel, Ross Williams, and Martin Potter, with support from Peter Mel, Rosy Hodge, Strider Wasilewski, Ronnie Blakey, and the East Coast’s very own Todd Kline.
A South Florida native, ‘QS veteran, and longtime industry insider, Kline has been holding the microphone at ASP events for just about as long as we’ve all been watching them via webcast, making him a familiar face for viewers around the world. So, with his core surf background and forward-thinking passion for broadcast media, Kline is the perfect representative to bring an East Coast perspective to the ASP’s newly assembled commentary team as the organization launches into a new era. ESM caught up with Todd to chat about his new title, the perks and challenges of the job, and what we can expect overall from this year’s highly anticipated World Tour coverage…
ESM: How are you feeling about your new official role?
Todd Kline: I’m really excited to be a part of the team and the changes taking place with the ASP. I’m honored. This is going to be a broadcast team, so we’ll all be working together, and I’m sure we’ll all play different roles, but the majority of my role will be hosting and reporting throughout the events. My goal in commentating at these events is always to make the viewer feel like they’re at the event and to share insight that intrigues them. That’s the ultimate goal of live broadcast. I have also always liked football and basketball, and in watching those sports, I have learned from some of the best commentators in the business. I plan to deliver insight and stories that will interest both core viewers and new viewers.
ESM: And what sorts of changes do you think we should expect in the webcasts this year?
TK: I think you’ll see some similarities, but you’ll see a lot of changes, too. The new crew that is coming onboard, outside of the commentators, has a very deep background in broadcast, and I think it’s going to be exciting utilizing the assets that we have, coming from the core world, in combination with what they’re bringing to the table from a more mainstream world. So I think it’s going to be a really dynamic year.
ESM: What’s your background with commentating? How’d you get into it?
TK: I was with Quiksilver for about 16 years, and one of my roles was commenting at the Quiksilver and Roxy events. I first cut my teeth in announcing pretty much at the inception of webcasts being associated with surfing, which happened about 10 or 11 years ago. So I did the majority of the Quiksilver and Roxy events during my time with Quiksilver, including one of the Eddie Aikau events.
ESM: What are the biggest rewards and challenges of your job?
TK: My favorite is receiving feedback from friends and viewers who said they really enjoyed watching the broadcast and that they learned something new while watching the event. That’s exciting for me. And then, obviously, when the red light turns on for the camera, you’re live, and it is definitely a bit of an adrenaline rush, at least out of the gate. At some point, you just don’t even know it’s there any more. The challenge in the sport of surfing, as far as live broadcast goes, is that if you watch broadcasts for most other sports, it’s generally one to three hours, whereas surfing is about eight hours consecutive, all day long. The challenge is to stay informative and pace yourself. You prepare by doing your research prior and during the event to stay up on the stories unfolding and bring them to the viewer.
ESM: And do you feel like you bring a unique perspective to the ASP’s official team, being from the East Coast?
I hope so. With my background, obviously being from the East Coast, as you pointed out, and competing for five years on the ‘QS along with being passionate about both surfing and mainstream sports, I hope that with all that and then my unique personality, I’m bringing something to the crew. I'm looking forward to an exciting year.