World Soccer Talk Senior Writer Kartik Krishnaiyer sat down with Micah Richards in Miami to catch up with him about his broadcast career, and the fit with CBS Sports/Paramount+. Here’s our Micah Richards interview.
When CBS Sports began broadcasting UEFA Champions League matches in the summer of 2020, they introduced Micah Richards to an American audience. Fast forward to now, and the former Manchester City defender has become one of the most compelling and popular figures covering European soccer in the United States.
The CBS Sports studio for UEFA Champions League coverage has won critical acclaim from media pundits and fans. Richards’ broadcasting style and personality have proven a hit as well as an important part of the formula for CBS’ success.
A product of Manchester City’s academy, Richards along with fellow academy product Nedum Onuoha were in the unique position to be part of the club’s transition from mid-table side to European powerhouse. Both have since gone on to become noted pundits.
We caught up with Richards and discussed his broadcasting career and his assessment of his former club Manchester City.
Micah Richards interview: His first steps
Richards got his start soon after retiring from playing in radio at BBC Five Live.
“When I first started in punditry, I did a lot of radio,” Richards said. “And radio helps you express yourself in a longer form. Sometimes you have 30 seconds to say something that should be two or three minutes. At the start of TV, it was really (difficult) for me because you can’t be yourself when you’re worrying about something. Radio helped me to express long form and then also short form to break things down quickly. I got my start on BBC Five Live.”
The transition from radio to television for Richards put him in more familiar settings in the UK. But when he joined CBS, the attitude and approach were different.
“Certain shows on BBC and Sky have been the same way for a long time,” Richards explained. “You come into that and fit in a (defined) role. [Speaking] to CBS (Senior Creative Director) Pete Radovich, he said ‘I’ve seen a couple of your films, I think you’re good but you’re too tense. You can loosen up a bit.’
“That was mad, hearing it from a producer! Hearing you have the license to be yourself. Express yourself. That was the day I knew broadcasting was for me, when you have the backing of the producers. We want to see this Micah. It was that moment I knew I could be myself.”
Working with Jamie Carragher
Richards played against Jamie Carragher in some epic Manchester City-Liverpool clashes of the past. Both were standout defenders who have developed a unique on-air chemistry. This chemistry feeds off their personalities, their friendship, and having worked together so often at both Sky Sports and CBS.
“At CBS we have the license to show our personalities,” said Richards. “We trust each other on the serious and analytical stuff. When we have trust in a person. Sometimes we go back and forth. Some viewers think we’re mad at each other, but it’s just like two friends having an argument. Because we work together for Sky and CBS we have great chemistry. We understand each other. We know where the line is, but we can both be self-deprecating. If I say something to someone else they may take it to heart, but I know with him, he just rolls with the punches and knows where I am coming from.“
Manchester City’s rise
Richards’ playing and broadcast career has coincided with the emergence of his boyhood club Manchester City, from the shadows to being treble winners. Richards feels it’s not just money that’s moved Manchester City to the forefront of English and European football. It’s also the smart way in which they have built.
“With Man City, every year we seemed to get strong both on and off the pitch,” Richards said. “Whether it was commercial or young players coming through or better support and backroom staff, the transition from when I first started there to now was incredible. Sure, they had a lot of money, but you have to get things right.
“Look at Everton, they’ve spent what, £500 million recently, and they have still not gotten it right. They’ve bought the same position over and over again. You still need people working at the top of their game and Manchester City don’t get enough credit for that.“
A perfect fit at CBS Sports
CBS Creative Director Pete Radovich is one of the most acclaimed producers of sports content in the media business. Richards has strong feelings about Radovich’s positive influence on his career and how he can be likened to a coach of a club, with some differences in approach.
“Normally in TV, everyone always says you’re doing a great job. One thing about Pete is he’s honest. Some might say it can be hard or brutal, but he’s straight with you. When you come from football managers who may say you’re not playing but it’s because of this other player, but with Pete, he says to you directly this what we want from you. If we get this version of you, you’ll be doing this forever, if not, well then you are not going to be here.
“It was refreshing, having that honesty. And his creativity is immense. He takes risks in every show. He’s always willing to give new ideas a try. Sometimes it doesn’t come off, but he’s willing to try things. That is what I love the most about CBS.“
Broadcasting to a US audience has been fulfilling from Richards point of view. He’s impressed by the knowledge and passion of American fans as well as the growth of the game in the country. Richards is impressed by the number of fans turning out for CBS events and trophy tours around the country.
“The fans here are some of the most passionate and informed I see. [Soccer] isn’t the number one sport here with NFL, basketball, baseball. But there are so many amazing fans here.
“I went on a trophy tour to LA, New York, Miami, and Las Vegas and the turnout was amazing. To see people come all this way to this event for a sport that’s not even number one in this country is incredible. I really hope it can keep growing. It may not be as tribal as fans in England, but in terms of the passion and knowledge of the game it’s great here.”
Photo: IMAGO / Sportsphoto and Sportimage.
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