For the first time in more than a decade, the Nationals pre- and postgame shows on MASN won’t be anchored by local broadcasting legend Johnny Holliday and former major league player and manager Ray Knight. Their full-time replacements should be familiar to fans who have followed the team since its first playoff berth in 2012.
The Nationals and MASN will announce Friday that Dan Kolko, who spent the past five years as the on-field reporter during Nationals broadcasts, will move to the studio for the half-hour shows that bookend every game. He will be joined by analyst and former Nationals third base coach Bo Porter.
Kolko assumes the host role previously held by Holliday, the longtime voice of Maryland football and men’s basketball, who announced in December that he was stepping away from the network after 13 years to spend more time with his family. Knight served as Holliday’s unfiltered, heart-on-his-sleeve studio partner since 2007, but his 2019 contract option wasn’t picked up after he was involved in a verbal altercation with a member of the MASN production team last season and pulled off broadcasts in mid-September.
McLean native Alex Chappell, who has covered college football for ESPN and the SEC Network since 2016 and was the on-field reporter for Fox Sports Sun’s Tampa Bay Rays broadcasts during the 2017 season under her maiden name, Alex Corddry, will fill the vacant on-field reporting position. Play-by-play man Bob Carpenter and analyst F.P. Santangelo will return for their 14th and ninth seasons, respectively.
During his tenure as the Nationals' on-field reporter, Kolko covered three no-hitters and three beer-soaked postseason clinching celebrations — “There is no wrong pipe!” came during one priceless exchange — and he asked the questions during several memorable postgame interviews with former National Jayson Werth. When Holliday announced he was stepping away, Kolko decided it was time for a change.
“I had a lot of big, fun moments during those five years, but you do something for five years, you’re looking for a new challenge, something to allow you to continue to grow and progress,” Kolko, 33, said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think what’s exciting about this job is it will give me an opportunity to do a lot of the elements that I’ve done in the past in terms of extended sit-down interviews with players and ways to bring players' personalities to the fan base in ways that they might not see otherwise, but in a much more expanded role. The on-field reporting role is a lot of fun, but it can be somewhat limiting by nature."
Kolko and Porter overlapped for one season in D.C. In 2012, which culminated in Washington’s first postseason appearance, Kolko was the Nationals beat writer for MASNSports.com and Porter, whose major league playing career spanned three seasons, was in his second and final year as the Nationals' third base coach.
Porter was hired as the Houston Astros' manager before the 2013 season and fired in September 2014. He joined the Atlanta Braves as their third base coach the following year and served as a special assistant to Braves GM John Coppolella in 2017. Last year, while working for the Major League Baseball Players Association, Porter was tasked by union head Tony Clark with running a spring training camp for free agents. With a communications degree from the University of Iowa, Porter said he was always interested in one day pursuing a broadcasting career, so when MASN reached out about the analyst position in late November, he jumped at the chance.
“This hits a sweet spot because it’s obviously in Washington with the Nationals,” said the 46-year-old Porter, who did some work as an analyst for MLB Network after being fired by the Astros. “I have a great history and track record with the organization and city, and I’m just looking forward to being part of the MASN team.”
Porter, who lives in Houston and is looking for a temporary home away from home in the D.C. area, said he will draw upon his varied baseball experiences in his new role.
“When I think about the many jobs I’ve been blessed to have in this game . . . I think that I’m going to bring a voice that can speak to the game from a number of different chairs,” he said. “I managed in the Houston Astros organization, one of the most forward-thinking organizations in all of baseball. I was able to gain a lot of experience, learn a lot of things after I left the Nationals, so I think I will present a voice that is intriguing and educational to our fan base.”
Kolko said not traveling with the team for the first time in five years will take some getting used to, as the pre- and postgame shows are broadcast from MASN’s studio in suburban Baltimore when the Nationals are on the road. Kolko filled in for Holliday and Knight on several occasions over the past two years, so he already has an idea of what to expect as a full-time studio host. He said he is excited for the change of pace and isn’t taking his new role lightly.
“I’m well aware that by taking the seat that Johnny used to occupy that I have enormous shoes to fill,” Kolko said. “I grew up in Silver Spring, so I used to listen to him broadcast Maryland basketball games. Getting an opportunity to pick up where he left off is an honor to me. He’s been incredibly kind to me over the years, and I had a blast working with him.”
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