'Beautiful Chaos': Siera Santos On MLB Network's Revamped 'Intentional Talk'

Intentional Talk with Siera Santos, Ryan Dempster, and Kevin Millar
Intentional Talk with Siera Santos, Ryan Dempster, and Kevin Millar / Courtesy of MLB Network

The excitement is palatable in Siera Santos' voice. In her second year with MLB Network, the reporter and host grows more energetic with each word as she describes going through her first Intentional Talk reps alongside Kevin Millar and Ryan Dempster, the trio now overseeing over the show. Santos understands that revamping the network's longest-running talk show is a responsibility not to be taken lightly, but her enthusiasm is not dampened in the slightest.

"I was flattered, first and foremost," Santos told The Big Lead. "I wasn’t anticipating it. It’s a big responsibility. There are hardcore, diehard fans that love that show. My goal is to make it the most entertaining show on MLB Network and I feel like it’s already there, but with the three of our personalities it’s got a different vibe and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch."

Santos hosted Quick Pitch in her first year with MLB Network in 2022 and did not cross paths with Millar or Dempster very often. In fact, Santos believes she only met Millar once before accepting the offer to co-host with him on Intentional Talk and had never met Dempster prior to the show's first meetings. But the first rehearsal assuaged any doubts Santos may have had, and led to a lightbulb moment: the realization that there's something good here.

"Within our first block, our first test segment, I was like, ‘We have something going on here. This could work,'" Santos explained. "We were all cracking up within the first 10 minutes. It was interesting to see the dynamic because I’m the new one, right? I’m the one coming into their relationship, the friendship they’ve had for two decades. I didn’t know if I was going to interrupt that flow but everything we did was really seamless, surprisingly. It’s not often that that happens."

Santos is in an interesting spot as the lone co-host without professional baseball experience on a show that tends to lean towards ... unconventional content. Intentional Talk is purposefully goofy and silly, more reliant than most shows of its ilk on the personalities on-screen to keep momentum for the hour runtime. Santos said she sees her role as a "Molly Qerim on First Take type of vibe," responsible for keeping her co-hosts and guests on track with the freedom to chime into the conversation often. Past experience has taught Santos this sort of format allows for her to be her authentic self while on-air.

"For me I feel like I really came into my own when I finally got a cohost," said Santos. "It was Luke Stuckmeyer at NBC Sports Chicago. It was like I finally found my personality. [Before] I was trying to be somebody that everybody liked, and people still hated me. I was trying to be a cookie-cutter sports anchor, right? And I realized people still don’t like me so I might as well be myself and have them hate me for actually being me. That’s where I had a huge shift in my career and I felt like I gained more respect because people could identify with me for being myself and you’re just more relatable."

Santos and her two co-hosts are not trying to reinvent the wheel, though. The foundation of Intentional Talk, what made the show so popular when it launched in 2011, will remain the same-- fan participation and player interviews. On the latter front, Santos believes the fun, loose aura she wants to cultivate with Dempster and Millar will endear the show to the players who make appearances.

"I want it to be a space where players come and feel like they can have a good time with an interview," she said. "We’re talking about life, we’re joking around.  Being a clubhouse reporter, when I was with the White Sox, that daily grind of having to do pre- and post-game interviews in the clubhouse is taxing. Especially if you don’t have high expectations for your team or if your guys are in the middle of a seven-game slump. Sometimes it’s not fun to do interviews.  I think it’ll be a show the players want to come on because we aren’t just talking about baseball."

Ultimately, the success of this year's Intentional Talk will come down to the chemistry between the three co-hosts. Santos is bullish that the camaraderie she already shares with Miller and Dempster will only improve once the show starts to regularly air and will play a large role in why viewers will tune in despite a plethora of other alternatives at their disposal.

"It’s hard to separate yourself, right?" Santos said. "We have different niche shows for everybody. You have something like Brian Kenny’s show which is really stats and analytics-driven. We’ve got MLB Tonight, which is literally the most comprehensive baseball show you could possibly want. I think this is going to be something that is more, ‘Hey, we’re in the middle of the afternoon. Let’s laugh and have a good time.’ 

"I’ve been referring to it as beautiful chaos.  It’s going to be entertaining, it’s going to be unhinged, it’s going to be a little weird, but we’ll make it fun."

The new season of Intentional Talk with Santos, Millar, and Dempster will air on Friday, March 31 at 5pm ET on MLB Network.