Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. announced Thursday evening that it is naming its renowned Sports Communication program in honor of former SportsCenter anchor Charley Steiner (Class of 1971). The Charley Steiner School of Sports Communication becomes the first named sports communication school in the nation.
During his ESPN tenure in Bristol, Conn. from 1988-2002, Steiner anchored SportsCenter, did MLB play-by-play on ESPN Radio and served as SportsCenter’s primary boxing reporter. Steiner is currently entering his 11th season as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Steiner discusses the Bradley University honor and reflects on his time with ESPN:
What does the Bradley honor mean to you?
This is the proudest achievement and highest honor of my career. An astonishing number of great sportscasters came out of Bradley, Peoria and Central Illinois, including Jack Brickhouse and Chick Hearn. The sports communication school is a product and result of this harmonic convergence of talent. Being honored by the place where it all began for me brings me an overwhelming sense of pride and joy. I am honored to have my name affixed to our school which already has 120 full-time majors.
What are your fondest memories from your 14 years at ESPN?
I was so lucky, to have come to ESPN when I did, as an inexperienced “radio guy,” as the network and the cable industry were exploding. Being involved in some of the biggest stories that helped define a generation – (e.g., Pete Rose and Mike Tyson) – and with a network for 14 years as it skyrocketed is still astonishing to me. We helped make ESPN and SportsCenter into not just scores and highlights, but a full-fledged journalistic enterprise. Working alongside Bob Ley and Robin Roberts may be my fondest memories of all. They were friends and partners then and friends for life.
– Former SportsCenter anchor Charley Steiner on working with his ESPN colleagues
What’s your legacy here?
Legacy? I guess if you have been around long enough, a resume becomes a legacy, but I will happily leave that to others to make that judgment. Had it not been for [former ESPN President] Steve Bornstein and [ESPN Executive Vice President and Executive Editor] John Walsh taking a chance on a bearded radio guy 27 years ago, who learned television on the fly, I am quite sure there would be no legacy. I always believed, and that is something I hope to bring to aspiring sports journalists, we are storytellers and not the story. We are the messengers and not the message. I tried to be observant and honest with a sense of priority and humor. I tried to be me and no one else, and if that is my legacy, I can live with that.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Charley Steiner is a four-time Emmy winner and National Radio Hall of Fame inductee who also is noted for his sense of humor and distinctive laugh. The 1993 video excerpt below highlights Steiner and former SportsCenter anchor Robin Roberts recalling Steiner’s on-air reaction to Olympian Carl Lewis’ attempt to sing the national anthem.