The seeds of ESPN 1090 AM's new Fantasy Sideline radio show were planted when Dennis Farrell, of Fenton, decided he needed a hobby. An assembly line worker for Ford Motor Company in Flat Rock, Farrell started a podcast about fantasy football and other sports, a topic he's well-versed in.
For his podcasts, Farrell built a small studio in his house, which he heads to after he and his wife, Heather Farrell, get their 4-year-old, Grace, into bed. A few months after beginning the podcast, Farrell invited a buddy, Nate Tucker, to join in.
For those who aren't in the know about fantasy football, one participates by joining a group and picking players from real NFL lineups. Fantasy football enthusiasts receive points based on what their real-life football players do during the games, and they try to win first place in their group.
"It gets people through long days of work," Farrell said. "It's great water cooler talk."
Fantasy football has a lot of dedicated, passionate fans. And a year and a half after Farrell started The Fantasy Sideline Show, it became one of the top podcasts in the U.S. Then the podcast got noticed by ESPN, and without a tryout or anything else, ESPN invited him to have a Sunday radio show on fantasy football, he said. ESPN staff had seen the podcasts and based their decision on that.
"I will always be loyal to ESPN," Farrell added. "I'm the luckiest guy in America. It's really, really exciting, and I have no clue what I'm doing."
He wouldn't call it low self-esteem, but he would call it shock, he said. He is grateful to Rob Wise and Mark Wilson from ESPN, who really made it happen.
"This kind of stuff doesn't happen to too many people," Farrell said. "It's amazing.
"I'm just the guy who bought a microphone and walked into this ESPN job."
Fantasy Sideline is from 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays, on ESPN 1090 AM, and the call-in number is 734-525-9425. It's his third week doing Fantasy Sideline, which he broadcasts live from the ESPN studio in Garden City. ESPN is building a new studio in Southfield, he added.
And he's still doing his podcast, which Farrell calls "my baby." The Fantasy Sideline Show is 8-10 p.m. Thursdays.