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Volume 26 No. 86
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A Day In The Life With TNT's NBA Host Ernie Johnson

With the NBA season getting underway last week, TNT's ERNIE JOHNSON is back as host of the nine-time Emmy award-winning "Inside The NBA," now in its 30th season overall. Johnson has been a mainstay on the program, as he's able to keep the popular crew of CHARLES BARKLEY, KENNY SMITH and SHAQUILLE O'NEAL on topic (for the most part). Johnson, whose mornings fully revolve around helping his son MICHAEL, earlier this week took THE DAILY through a typical Thursday in the leadup to filming.

8:00-8:30am: On a night when I'll be on the air, that's typically when I'll get up. A lot of times I stay up late at night watching games and doing work when everybody's in bed.

9:00am-1:00pm: For my morning routine, it really depends on when my wife CHERYL and I are able to get our son Michael up. He has muscular dystrophy and is on a ventilator. He's 31 and requires 24-hour care. We have a nurse from 10:00pm-10:00am. She leaves in the morning and then my wife and I work the schedule around him, who's able that day to get him up when he decides to wake up. Sometimes that's 11:00am, sometimes it's 2:00pm in the afternoon. On a typical day, I try to be at the TNT Studios by 1:30pm.

1:30-5:00pm: I have a routine after this many years of prep work on a game day. I'm a creature of habit in those ways. I'll update certain files I have on every team. I'll read articles that are available to me on the teams that we have on the air that night. I need to get those things done before our production meeting. That prep process is also an everyday thing. It's not like we're on on Thursday and then I don't care about the NBA again until the next week. I'm keeping a daily log of every game that's played, who did what, who turned an ankle and who had a triple-double, etc.

Photo: turner sports
Photo: turner sports
Photo: turner sports

5:00-8:00pm: We have a three-hour production meeting with our producers JEREMY LEVIN and TIM KIELY and all of our graphics folks, really everybody who's involved production-wise. It's probably 35 folks in the room. We go through what we might want to do that night. I'm the only one of the announcers who's there. Kenny and Chuck and Shaq are not part of it and they wouldn't want to be because it's 3 hours before air. It's also not like we want them to know everything that we might be doing that night. The show has been as successful as it's been through the years because of that unpredictable nature. They sit down for the pregame, they don't know what we're going to talk about. I'll throw something out and get genuine, gut-level reactions from them. The production meeting allows myself and the producers to know what we've got in the saddle bags that night. Here's some video we might throw out to get Kenny's reaction, here's an old clip of Shaq that might be funny and we'll try to stump Chuck on how much he knows about player movement in the offseason. All that stuff, the producers, graphics folks and I know, but Kenny, Shaq and Chuck don't. That's the way we like it.

8:00pm-1:45am: On air.

2:00am: The night is wrapping up, and then it's straight home for me. In my earlier days, maybe it wouldn't have been. But I live 45 minutes from the studio, so I'll fall into bed at about 3:15 or 3:30. The schedule just doesn't allow for a whole lot of side tracks on the way home.

Know of someone who should be featured in "A Day in the Life"? Send a note to mchupita@sportsbusinessdaily.com.