About The Sports Source
In the Fall of 2003 a new kind of television show came to East Tennessee. Fully independently owned and operated, The Sports Source remains the area’s first and only year-round sports-talk show on television.
The Sports Source initially hit air as a pair of weekly pre- and post-game shows before and after University of Tennessee football games in ‘03. The pre-game shows were a mix of detailed previews and tailgate-type fun. The post-game shows were dedicated to opinion, analysis and viewer call-ins.
Airing on UPN affiliate WEEE-TV, that first incarnation of the show featured host and producer John Pennington along with Bob Hodge, Chuck Cavalaris, former Vols Scott Galyon, Sterling Henton and Bubba Miller, with Phil Williams on-board to provide a pure fan’s perspective. A rotation of Dewey Warren, Jimmy Hyams, Jim Wogan, Ralph Miranda, and others rounded out that first Fall’s line-up.
Those 2003 shows were broadcast live from a studio in Seymour specifically built for The Sports Source. The signal from studio to station was sent via banded T-1 lines. While television over the web is common (and a heckuva lot easier) today, in ’03 it was a type of signal delivery that left most engineers scratching their heads.
In 2004 the show faced an enormous challenge as the UPN affiliation in Knoxville moved from WEEE-TV to WVLT-TV. The new station wanted to use its HD back-channel to carry the UPN signal. After reaching an agreement with WVLT, The Sports Source became a weekly, year-round show on the new MyVLT.
Those ’04 shows were taped at Spicy’s in Powell. By the fall of 2005 the show had moved to the studios of HP Video in downtown Knoxville. Those years featured a regular rotation of Bob, Chuck, Jimmy, Mike Strange, Mike Griffith, Dave Hooker and John Adams alongside the host.
In 2006, The Sports Source moved to its current home at WATE-TV. The jump to one of the three main affiliates in Knoxville television was a testimony to the show’s quick growth. It also meant a return to a live format. Since January of ’06 The Sports Source has thrived in its current timeslot – Sunday mornings at 11am.
During the WATE years The Sports Source has featured the very best analysts in East Tennessee. Former Vol footballers like Bobby Scott, Mike Stowell, Pat Ryan, Will Overstreet, David Ligon, and Shazzon Bradley have filled the show’s ranks. Basketball analysts have included former players Dane Bradshaw and Isiah Victor as well as former UT head coach Don DeVoe and former Vol assistants Mark Pancratz and Houston Fancher.
In 2007 two brief call-in segments were nixed from the show… leading to a jump in ratings.
The Sports Source also introduced a new graphic look and open featuring a “robot” mascot created by one of the nation’s top design firms.
The move to a brand new dark wood, copper and stone set in the Fall of 2014 led to yet another boost in the Nielsen ratings.
“We take the show seriously, but we try not to take ourselves too seriously,” Pennington said of his show. “From Day One we wanted viewers to tune in and feel like they’re simply sitting around with friends, talking UT athletics.”
A seven-time Emmy Award-winner for producing, writing and editing, Pennington’s vision for the show has always been big. “We went year-round and proved that Vol fans would support a year-round sports-talk show on television. We often have eight to 10 analysts in a single show. No one else comes anywhere close to that aside from network programming.”
“I want The Sports Source to be unique,” Pennington said. “I want it to be fun. And I want it to be informative. Thanks to our sponsors and the passion of Tennessee sports fans we’ve been able to grow from a small studio in Seymour and a tiny UPN station to one of the largest, nicest sets in Knoxville on the city’s original television station. The fact that we’ve lasted this long and come so far only drives us to further improve the product for our loyal viewers.”