Karen Frye grew up with four brothers in New York in a household where the television set was perpetually tuned to a Giants, Jets, Yankees, Rangers or Knicks game.
Then she spent years schlepping her oldest son Channing to basketball practices and games, following him on road trips up and down the Pac-10 and eventually watching him play in her old hometown as a Knick and her new one as a Sun.
Along the way this Emmy Award-winning producer and director has picked up a thing or two about the game of basketball and she plans to display that knowledge as the executive producer and host of the new female talk show and web site “KFrye and Girlfriends Talk Sports,” which features webisodes as well as articles, live event coverage and social media in a format like The View for sports fans.
“A show just for women by women talking sports the way women talk sports, which is very different in many instances,” Frye said. “When I’m with my girlfriends we talk sports differently. We’re in the kitchen, we’re eating, we’re drinking, maybe a little wine and we are just talking sports.
“It happens that I know a little bit about sports and I love working with these females. I love having a good idea that’s new and fresh, and nobody has tapped into this marketplace the way we’re tapping into this marketplace.”
As the blogosphere (and this blog in particular) shifts more toward advanced statistical analysis, combing through data to figure out which lineup combinations are most effective a la Wayne Winston and calculating just how many wins each player produces a la David Berri, KFrye & Girlfriends will take a most un-Hollingerian angle.
They will focus on the kinds of issues women care about in the way that women talk about sports.
“What’s different about it is we don’t always care so much about who has the most runs coming in and the stats and all that kind of stuff,” Frye said. “I want to talk more on the level of whether I like these players, whether I think it’s a team effort, whether it’s just an individual taking over, whether I think the Suns really have what it takes. I’m not interested in J-Rich’s stats from last year, where is Amare Stoudemire, is he producing this year? We talk about unnecessary roughness, has the NFL just gone too far?”
Frye will be joined on the set by:
- Patty Dimitriou, who has been recognized for her community accomplishments by tribal presidents, professional sports teams and city governments throughout the Southwest.
- Rosalie Michaels, an actor, model and TV host who became a Cardinals season ticket holder 17 years ago and remained one even after her divorce.
- Kathleen Macarenas, an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster who has anchored for ABC and NBC and formerly worked as a sports reporter.
The women all bring their unique takes to issues that aren’t exactly the same old things you hear from traditional talking heads on TV.
Frye and the Girlfriends tape in Glendale Media Center but have also taken their talents to a Dillard’s for a segment with former Sun Matt Janning and plan to tape in the renovated Fry’s (how fitting) at Tatum and Shea while cooking no less. Frye plans on bringing in everyone from D-backs hero Luis Gonzalez to Suns forward Hakim Warrick.
When a guest comes on a show it’s not just a one-time thing. Unlike the aforementioned advanced stat gurus who often treat players like math problems, these women get to know their interview subjects for the person they are.
“For us when we get a relationship with a player, we’re loving him and we’re following him forever,” Frye said. “We’re not these fair-weather fans, ‘You don’t do well we don’t like you.’”
While I had Channing’s mom on the phone I asked her a little bit about the Suns’ starting power forward, and her answers exhibited the flair and passion she’s sure to bring to the show:
- On Frye’s 24-12 line in a crushing Elite Eight loss to Illinois in his final collegiate game: “That game changed the specter of the game for me. That was an unbelievable game because that was his last game (at Arizona). We had coaches all around us and family members. You talk about a high and a low of a game in a matter of minutes. He really brought it all together.”
- On Frye’s game: “People are like, ‘Oh, well he has an inside game.’ He always had an inside game. It just depends on the coach and how the coach wants to play him. … With a coach like Gentry who is to me a gentleman and a coach just like Lute Olson, same thing. This guy understands players and he really has the opportunity to work Channing from midrange to under the basket to outside.
“[Channing] used to call himself the buffet, the buffet of goodness. That’s what he did in Portland, that was his nickname, buffet of goodness. At a buffet you get a little bit of everything. I don’t think people understood that nickname, but I did because I’ve seen him be able to play it all. He can play as a big man, he’s so agile, he can play outside, he can play midrange. In Portland he really had that midrange shot. He was like a LaMarcus Aldridge.”
- On interviewing Danny Granger: “I’m talking and I say, ‘I’m Channing Frye’s mother,’ and he says, ‘Noooo, you’ve got to be kidding.’ So he gets down close and says, ‘You know we had a fight last year.’ I said, ‘Honey, I know you did.’ He said, ‘Oh ma’am, it was really nothing, it was just a game. It really was nothing. I really like Channing, we’re really good friends.’ It’s like he was talking to a friend of the family. This is how I get these guys. When I do interviews I don’t do interviews the same way that a reporter would do an interview. I come from an altogether different angle.” (Frye does not plan on doing any locker room interviews, if for no other reason than Channing probably does not want to see his mother in the locker room after a tough game but will instead talk to players on their way out).”
As my interview with Mrs. Frye was coming to a close, I asked Karen about what had to be the toughest moment of her son’s basketball career: his 1-for-20 start to the Western Conference Finals.
I asked what it was like to deal with that as his mother and her answer displayed the kind of zest she will be sure to bring to the show. After prefacing her answer by mentioning an early morning call from her brother stating the obvious that Channing needed to get the ball in the hole, she described the scene when Frye broke out of his slump with four treys in Game 4.
“I was there the game that he made that shot and then he made another three and then he made another three,” Karen said. “The whole, this is where the fans come in. This is when they just exploded, the whole arena, I mean you could just feel like a top went off. It was like all of the 17 that he had missed were all forgiven because he made that one.
“That is why we love sports. That’s why I love to watch sports, that’s why I love to talk about sports, because it gives you all the highs and lows without having to pay for a rollercoaster ride. I was chilling out on the couch and I was thinking, ‘Women are missing out on something if they don’t take the time to watch these games.’”
Karen Frye has taken more than her fair share of rides on that roller coaster throughout her life, and along with the Girlfriends she hopes to make other women enjoy sports as much as she does.