MLF EMBEDDED: JT Kenney's Decision to Move from Front Deck to Broadcast Desk
By Joel Shangle
October 26, 2018
It was a moment that JT Kenney knew might be coming, but at the age of 44 and in the prime of his professional tournament-fishing career, it wasn’t supposed to happen for another 10 years. Kenney, a 17-year veteran of the FLW Tour and one of the 80 anglers invited to compete in 2019 on the Bass Pro Tour, had just agreed to surrender his spot in the new league to accept a position as a color analyst for the Bass Pro Tour when it begins competition in January.
For one fleeting instant, Kenney’s imagination got the better of him: “Oh bleep, what did I just do?!” Kenney fussed.
Kenney’s moment of panic evaporated as quickly as it came, though, and the Florida pro started to settle into a role that he’s had in the back of his mind for several years.
“I’ve been pretty darn excited to fish the Bass Pro Tour, so when (Major League Fishing V.P. of Broadcast Production) Randy White offered me the job, I didn’t really care much for the idea,” Kenney admitted. “Fishing is pretty much all I’ve done my entire adult life. But (broadcast) is what I thought my end game in the fishing industry would be. Once I took some time to really think about it, I started to realize that this is an opportunity that I couldn’t let just sail on by.”
Kenney will be part of the yet-to-be-named crew that will host the Bass Pro Tour's live streaming coverage of the league’s eight regular-season events and the league championship. He’ll occupy an in-studio color role that White believes the garrulous Floridian is perfectly suited for.
“There aren’t too many people in the fishing world with the experience, credibility and personality to fill the role that we foresee JT filling,” White said. “We knew we needed a little bit of a wild card who would complement our play-by-play, and who would be a compelling counter to the ‘straight man’ of the team. When we went through the process of identifying guys who we thought would be good analysts, we kept coming back to JT as the best choice.”
As reported previously on MajorLeagueFishing.com, Kenney brings a solid base of on-camera experience to the Bass Pro Tour booth. His fishing knowledge and understanding of the nuances of tournament bass fishing are unquestionable: Kenney has competed in over 300 professional events, including the unique MLF format that he’ll be covering for the Bass Pro Tour.
Beyond his competition resume, though, both White and Bass Pro Tour Co-Founder Boyd Duckett were sold on Kenney’s personality and likeability, and his potential to deliver commentary that appeals to both hardcore bass fans and new viewers alike.
“I got a better taste of JT’s personality when he helped us survey the waters for the 2018 MLF World Championship,” White said. “I spent a couple of days on a boat with him and noticed pretty quickly how genuine and likable he is, and I think that’s going to really hit home with viewers.”
“We offered JT the role because of his commentary skills, yes, but mostly because we want JT to just be JT,” said Duckett. “Not unlike a Jon Gruden or John Madden. He’s a guy who might not say everything right, but you remember it when he says it. Randy and I talked and talked and talked about this for weeks, but when you understand our overall goal of both satisfying and expanding beyond our core fishing audience, JT is just a perfect choice.”