In the news business, producers and editors can expect to react to a breaking story at any time. In ESPN Radio associate producer Rob Kelly’s case, a huge story broke at 1:52 a.m. ET Wednesday, and he and his SportsCenter All Night teammates reacted quickly, getting fresh perspective on the air.
In those early hours, the Minnesota Vikings announced that star running back Adrian Peterson — who is under investigation on allegations of child abuse — would be placed on the NFL’s exempt list, barring him from all team activities until the legal issue is resolved.
During that time, Kelly was taping ESPN Radio’s daily SportsCenter All Night show (2–6 a.m.) with producer James Steele and host Jay Reynolds. When the Peterson news broke, the team immediately switched to “live mode.”
“We saw it come across on our internal news wire,” said Kelly. “We had to do a little bit of research to find out who was going to be awake at 2 a.m. to talk about it, so I kept an eye on Twitter and the news wire. Once I saw an Associated Press writer’s [Vikings beat writer Jon Krawczynski] story and [his] tweet about it, I knew he was awake.”
Kelly combed ESPN’s records for Krawczynski’s phone number and sent a text. Ninety minutes later Krawczynski responded, and his perspective was worth it.
“Jon was able to talk to some of the Vikings and Adrian’s agent [while we waited for him],” Kelly said. “That made the information he had that much better once we got him on the show.”
All Night host Reynolds said it was just another day at the office: “Everyone involved knew what needed to be done and simply did it. We’re ESPN. It’s what we do.”
It wasn’t Kelly’s first fire drill in his nearly 14 years with ESPN, nor will it be the last.
“You never know when news is going to break – it could be at 5 p.m., it could be at 2 a.m. on a random Wednesday,” Kelly said. “I think we served the fans well with the latest information from one of the biggest stories of the NFL season so far.”