Sports Radio Host Has High-Tech Home


Radio host Glenn Ordway in his home theater

Glenn Ordway, host of Boston’s “The Big Show,” boasts a big home theater filled with Sony ES components.

May. 20, 2010 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Glenn Ordway earns his living by talking about what he watches on TV. The “Big O,” as he’s often called, talks Boston sports on “The Big Show,” which has been on WEEI-AM 850 radio since 1995.

It turns out that the “Big O” has been watching the games on some big TVs.

The biggest — his 110-inch Stewart Filmscreen with Sony VPL-VW85 1080p projector — is in a 600-square-foot home theater adjacent to a pool room and bar area. Add into the mix some Boston sports memorabilia, some of which he acquired while calling Celtics games alongside legendary radio broadcaster Johnny Most, and Ordway has converted his basement into a 2,200-square-foot Boston sports fan utopia.

He controls that utopia with Control4 automation. Glenn can sit back in one of his Bass home theater seats holding a 7-inch Control4 tablet controller and dim the lights, fire up the 7.1 Klipsch speaker system and cue up his projector with MotionFlow, which Sony says reduces blurring on fast-moving content — like sports.

Given Glenn’s job, his home theater is sort of like his home office — although he has one of those too, also decked out with audio and video. “Between the office upstairs and here, I work a lot in both places,” he says. “No question that it makes it easier to write a check [to his A/V installer] because it does a lot for my business.”

In total, installer Jim Shapiro of North Easton, Mass.-based Audio Video Intelligence says the 6,000-square-foot house has 14 TVs. That means Glenn, who lives with his wife and his two youngest children (7 and 2 years old) in Hanover, Mass., about 20 miles south of Boston, can move around the house while monitoring games.

He tries to watch as many games as possible and has developed an ambitious approach for doing so.

(If you’re only interested in Glenn’s electronics, skip to the next section or to the slideshow.)

Sports Viewing Meets Productivity
Although he can guess given the ebb and flow of the Boston sports scene, Glenn never knows for sure what his sports talk radio callers will want to discuss. So he tries to watch as many games as possible.

“DVRs, that’s the greatest invention of mankind,” he says. “I have five of them. They’re all double-loaded so I can record two games on each one of them and I do them in different rooms so I can walk around.”

He says he generally watches one live game every night — the Red Sox, the Celtics or the Bruins — while taking notes. He DVRs seven, eight or nine other games to watch later that night or the next morning before his highly rated 2-6 p.m. radio show. Those other games include non-Boston teams that hold local interest, such as the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Lakers. “I’ll do those other games in 20 minutes.”

Before he watches the other games, he reads about them to find things to look for (big innings, dramatic plays, brawls, etc.) and zeroes in on those events while fast-forwarding.

Of course, some radio callers might want to talk about the TV coverage itself and he can miss a lot of those details while fast-forwarding. “I’ll ask my producers: ‘Did [Bruins TV announcer] Jack Edwards say anything outrageous or did anything happen?’ I’ll ask around. Once I hear that something happened, I’ll go find it. Also, between Facebook and Twitter, you always get people mentioning something that you know is going to be a topic on the next show. So, if I see something like that, I go back to the [recording].”

On the day we met with Glenn, he was preparing for a particularly busy Boston sports night. Both the Bruins and the Celtics had playoff games and the Red Sox played the Yankees that night. And Glenn had to MC an event all evening.

“I’ll record all three of those, plus I’ve got to record some other games. I’ll probably watch at least one, if not two, when I get home tonight and the other tomorrow,” he says. “These are three big events so it will drive me crazy. I’ll have my iPhone and I’ll be looking at the scores all night.”

Glenn obviously enjoys watching sports, but it’s a bit much. “You’re working around the clock in this job,” he says. He’s not complaining, though, because “it’s so much easier than what we had to do years ago. You couldn’t even get an out-of-town newspaper. If the Sox were talking to Cleveland about a trade you’d have to have a friend in Cleveland to get Cleveland’s perspective.”

Electronics Fanatic
Another reason Glenn won’t complain about being tied to his TVs, constantly watching sports: He loves electronics. “Glenn is as much of a technology enthusiast as he is a sports enthusiast,” Shapiro says.

He recalls listening to Glenn evangelize the benefits of high-definition TV as far back as the late ’90s — and being ridiculed by his less-affluent co-hosts. He says Glenn is a true early-adopter. “Glenn and I are always looking for a technology upgrade.”

In fact, Shapiro, whose company is an Apple dealer, brought to the interview an iPad equipped with Control4’s home automation application to show Glenn. The early-adopter played around with it, asked some questions and told his installer that he’s interested in using the iPad as a mobile Control4 controller.

“As a kid, I was always into it [technology],” Glenn says. “Put it this way, I could never afford it, but I would always struggle to find a way to get it.”

Now that he can afford it, he embraces it. In fact, he more or less tried to set up the home theater himself. “I did it from a crude setup before Jimmy came in and saved it,” Glenn says. “I started doing it on my own. I knew enough about the stuff. I knew about Stewart [Filmscreen], so I got that. I knew about Bass chairs. I knew about [the need for elevated seating in home theaters].”

When Glenn brought in Shapiro from Audio Video Intelligence, however, the home theater was significantly upgraded. “He was right about cables,” Glenn says. “He told me that he thinks I’m experiencing some [performance] loss and said let me come in and swap out the cables.”

Shapiro put in AudioQuest HDMI cables along with power protection by Monster Cable and Glenn says he can see and hear the difference. “I always like to make sure Glenn has the proper technology,” he says.

“We looked around for a 1080p projector, a great Blu-ray player and a receiver that was networkable and also to match the video processing for the projector and the Blu-ray player.” He chose a Sony STR-DA 6400 ES Series Home Theater Network AV Receiver and a Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu-ray Player to match the Sony ES 1080p projector.

Shapiro sold Glenn on the Sony components, in part because, he was sold on them himself by Neal Manowitz, director for the Sony Home Audio and Video division. Shapiro says the receiver has “incredible power.” He likes the Blu-ray player, “because they separate the audio boards from the video boards within the chassis; the entire cage of the disc drive is vacuum sealed so no dust gets in there. For a Blu-ray player, it’s heavy, like 40 pounds,” he says. “So we put these three components together as a match, which is what Sony recommended to get the utmost performance.”

Family Movie Night
Still, Glenn is proud of the base-level work he did on the theater. “One thing I was smart enough to do in planning it was I got these tubes across here and you can get into all of the panels,” he says, pointing to the drop ceiling panels.

“[Shapiro] just got in here, rewired everything and changed everything around for us. The shell was here along with the beautiful South American mahogany [baseboards].”

Even with the adjacent pool room and bar, which is complete with Niles in-ceiling speakers, Glenn’s home theater is often converted into a family room. His 7-year-old son loves watching movies and playing Nintendo Wii or Sony PlayStation 3 on the big screen — although “he’s starting to get into watching sports with me,” Glenn says.

Meanwhile, after a week of watching 50-plus games, Glenn likes converting his sports-viewing room into a family theater. “There are nights when I’d much rather sit here and watch a movie with my son, but I put that off usually until Friday night. We do movie night in here every Friday with the kids. We strike up the popcorn machine and they pick a movie.”

Glenn uses DirecTV for its NFL Sunday Ticket and takes advantage of its on-demand movie library to watch movies in 1080p. 

Since the family uses the system a lot, Shapiro says Audio Video Intelligence’s biggest priority was to make it as easy to use as possible. He converted it to Control4 because the control platform Glenn has been using was too complicated. “My wife couldn’t use it,” Glenn recalls. “I could, but she would call me and say I can’t use this damn thing.”

As an extra precaution, Glenn now has a hand-held, super-simple Control4 SR-250 remote to back up the touchscreen tablet. His kids generally use the hand-held model.

From the sounds of it, though, they’ll soon be using a new iPad to control the theater — that is, until Glenn gets yet another call from his installer and decides to adopt the next cool technology.

Design & Installation
Audio Video Intelligence
North Easton, Mass.

Home Theater Equipment (Partial List)
110-inch Stewart Filmscreen
Sony VPL-VW85 1080p projector
Control4 HC-300 Controller
Control4 7-inch WiFi tablet
Control4 SR-250 remote
7.1 Klipsch speaker system
Bass home theater seating
AudioQuest HDMI cables
Sony STR-DA 6400 ES Series Home Theater Network AV Receiver
Sony BDP-S5000ES Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation3
Monster Cable power protection

Additional Equipment (Partial List)
KEF surround sound speakers (upstairs family room)
Niles in-ceiling speakers (pool/bar area)
Niles rock speakers (outdoors)

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