By Design: Audio Check

ESPN Radio is a colorful world within ESPN. You have our nationally syndicated shows and talent, four ESPN-owned and operated stations (New York, Chicago, Dallas and LA), each with its own local hosts, programming lineup, and local team affiliations. Then there are all the radio affiliates, 472 of them and 41 ESPN Deportes stations scattered throughout the country (and more launching every week).  And finally, there are the digital apps and sites.

The new studios for ESPN Radio (or ESPN AUDIO, as the business side is called) located on ESPN’s Bristol campus, needed artwork that celebrates all of that diversity, so the opportunity came from Robyn Remick and Kevin Plumb to build out several murals.  The challenge was to represent all of the different brand identities, hosts and alliances very specifically. The other requirement—and they were very up front about this—was that it also must be able to be updated frequently. Logos, call letters, photos, everything is subject to change as that business rapidly evolves.

In general, whenever we install artwork, we install it to last. So changing out graphic elements is always a risk. On our O&O murals, we came up with a system that would allow us maximum flexibility: a large acrylic panel carries the vinyl logos for each market, a grid-like background allows us to cover and switch out squares as programming changes. The entire look itself is inspired by the new digital technology and audio “levels” indicators. Our designer, Matt Juskiewicz, wove all the various features into a complete tapestry that also picks up the beautiful cityscape treatments of the stations’ local web sites. It all looks very effortless. Barb Blake, who tirelessly collected and edited all the imagery and logos for the murals, admits it took a little effort.

The mural location consists of two sets of walls facing each other in a fairly narrow hallway. We didn’t want it to feel like you’re in a tunnel with artwork on both sides, so we tried to stagger the murals, which are 9 feet wide each. And it turned out to be a good thing that they are made up of many smaller graphic elements, because they are viewed at close-range. We’re very happy with this first phase of the design of ESPN Radio’s home. There are more graphics in the works which will talk about the digital platforms and radio apps. We will also design the 3rd floor conference room. Not to give too much away, it is a narrow room with windows all along one side, so it feels kind of like a press box. This will be a fun project because we can introduce some of the colorful history of “old school” radio, and also inject the excitement of our live play-by-play programming. We will even do a soundscape you can listen to while waiting for your meeting to start.

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