Editor’s note: Welcome to Off Camera with. . ., a Front Row series that introduces you to some of the studio anchors and hosts who have recently joined ESPN. Today, we meet Chris Cotter, a studio anchor, who joined ESPN in January 2012.
How I broke into the business: While living in Atlanta, I had a friend who co-owned the sports talk radio station [WQXI 790AM] in town. I asked if I could come up to the studio one night and watch how it all works from the control room. I never had seen how a radio show, or any show for that matter, was produced.
I arrived for the 7-10 p.m. show at around 6:55 p.m. One of the co-hosts, Brian Katrek, introduced himself to me, and to my surprise said the following: “The other two co-hosts are out sick, so it’s you and me tonight, grab those headphones, we’re on in two minutes.”
The next day, the owner called, said he liked what he heard and that he wanted me to start filling in from time to time, which worked out well since I was in graduate school at the time. Two years later, I said goodbye to corporate America and jumped into talk radio full-time. Working at the radio station led to my first TV gig at Comcast Sports Southeast (which at the time was local access TV33), and ultimately CNN and Turner Sports.
Favorite quote/words of wisdom: “The market is the market.” – My mentor, the late Don Lynch, one of the great minds in corporate finance back in the booming 80s and 90s. He was my mentor at SunTrust Bank, my first job out of college.
Favorite movie: That would be “Breaking Away.” Along with [former U.S. cyclist] Alexi Grewal winning the gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, this Academy Award-winning film inspired me to pick up cycling as a boy.
Living in Boulder, Colo., the cycling capital of the U.S., didn’t hurt. The sport defined my life for many years and I still follow it intently to this day. While a brilliant film about the spirit of cycling, “Breaking Away” transcends the sport. Everyone needs to see it. “The Wind and the Lion” (with a nod to my father, Chris Cotter Sr.) is a distant second in this category.
Favorite team: Georgia Tech, my alma mater. Witnessed a Final Four and national football championship in the same year (1990) while matriculating on The Flats. Other than academically, it was the best year.
Favorite TV show: “Rescue Me.” Extremely underrated writing in this series. Denis Leary was only the tip of the iceberg here. The other actors and story lines were captivating. Other than “Barney Miller” and maybe “Shazam!,” this is the only TV series I could not miss every week.