SC6 with Michael and Jemele co-anchor Michael Smith shares how he feels about being asked to host the flagship news program with Jemele Hill, as well as what has gone into preparing to make the move to “The Six.”
Smith and Hill will launch their new edition of SportsCenter Monday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. ET.
How did it feel to be asked to host the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter?
Surreal. Surreal is the only word I can use to describe it. When they would ask in high school, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” my answer was “a SportsCenter anchor” and I am not just saying that. I grew up watching the big show with the greats Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Rich Eisen and Stuart Scott.
At that point, the debate show genre and the discussion genre of talk shows did not really exist, at least not in the way they do now. Fast forward to my career in sports. I made it to ESPN through my relationship with Around the Horn and served first as a reporter, then as an analyst. I was an entertainer more so than an anchor, even though I had plenty of anchoring experience. I actually let go of the idea of anchoring SportsCenter a long time ago because I didn’t think it was the right fit for me and what I did well. I enjoyed having my own talk show and driving my own content. When they asked us to not just do SportsCenter but to do it our way – do it in the way we were doing His & Hers — it was a concept I could have never fathomed. Even now, it’s all still sinking in.
What is your favorite part about working with Jemele?
My favorite part about working with Jemele is actually the off-camera preparations. A lot of athletes say, “Practice is the work and the game is the fun.” When we are on television, we are just being ourselves. Once that red light comes on, she and I just vibe. The challenging part is the process of putting the show together and there is no one whose judgment, intellect, work ethic and perspective that I respect more than Jemele’s. I enjoy the behind-the-scenes work of determining what topics to tackle and the manner in which to do that. I enjoy creating with her.
What are you most excited for viewers to see when “The Six” premieres?
I am most excited for the viewers to see how much more freedom we are going to have. There may be a perception that we won’t have the creative and editorial freedom that we enjoyed on His & Hers. Nothing could be further from the truth. We will deliver the news when necessary but this show is really going to be an enhanced version of His & Hers. We are going to be able to have the conversations we want and have them in different spaces and locations with different looks. The show is just going to look so much more dynamic. It’s going to look amazing. I am really looking forward to the presentation.
What have preparations been like for The Six?
It’s been intense. What is unique about this situation is that, normally, when you have a new show you also have new talent and a new staff where everyone is just getting to know each other in many respects. In this situation, it’s isn’t exactly a new show. It’s an old show that is moving to a different timeslot and rebranding. We have a lot of preferences and habits that the new staff is learning and adapting to, and vice-versa. It’s been an interesting process as we try to implement what we do, in a new space, while also leaving ourselves open to new ideas that will help us evolve and improve. If we had started from scratch, everything would be a clean slate but because we have a successful body of work in His & Hers it presents a different set of challenges. What do we do the same? What do we do differently? This is how we did it on His & Hers, is this how we want to do it on “The Six?” There is a lot of give and take right now. It’s an interesting process and we hope to hit the ground running.