INDIANAPOLIS – With SportsCenter’s “On the Road” initiative in full gear, it seems only appropriate that coordinating producer Jim Bowdon would have a bit of a homecoming here this week.
Being on the familiar turf of a city he and his wife, Ellen, called home for 13 years prior to joining ESPN in 1996, has its advantages.
“Yes, it’s helped in getting around a bit,” said Bowdon. “It’s great after all these years, I’m now involved in helping take SportsCenter on the road and this is one of the things I always kind of wanted to do – take SportsCenter to the Final Four. It’s kind of come full circle.”
It was Bowdon’s Indy roots that led to his current career at ESPN.
– Jim Bowdon
“In 1991, I covered the Mike Tyson rape trial here in Indianapolis and I got to know [former SportsCenter anchor] Charley Steiner and [current senior coordinating producer] David Brofsky. I had a good relationship with them and that led to me coming to ESPN.
“It’s funny, one of the reasons I always wanted to work at ESPN came in 1987 when I was at the Final Four in New Orleans covering Indiana University,” Bowdon said. “I’d watch [analyst] Dick Vitale interacting with the fans, going crazy and really getting into it. I remember thinking back then, ‘I’d be good at that.'”
He’s not the only one proving to be good at the road shows. SportsCenter, too, has found its groove being away from the comfy confines of the Bristol campus.
“Just like [Saturday morning] we had so many guests – like [Green Bay Packer] Randall Cobb, [Gonzaga coach] Mark Few – and the vibe of the show is so different with fans being there,” Bowdon said. “It’s just nice to get out of the ‘house’ and be in contact with the fans and the people making the news and playing the sports.”
There are, of course, adjustments for pulling off SportsCenter from the site of a big event.
“More technically speaking, we are always learning what our limitations and abilities are,” he said. “Every time there’s something else that is different, something else will happen and you have to learn to anticipate that kind of thing.”