A stellar/distinguished/remarkable ESPN career that mirrors the rise of the company itself will come to an end December 31 when Steve Anderson retires as Executive Vice President, Content Operations & Creative Services.
From our wall-to-wall college basketball in ESPN’s early days to running ABC Sports, from the USFL to SportsCenter and everything in between, Steve’s imprint on virtually all facets of ESPN’s television evolution over the years is indelible.
If it seems like every major TV and radio series in ESPN’s history has benefitted from Steve Anderson’s touch, it’s because it’s true. Perhaps more important than his uncanny ability to create content that resonated with millions of fans is the impact he had on a more select group – his colleagues over the years at ESPN.
Steve was never the loudest or most vocal person in the meeting. But when he spoke, he did so with confidence, reason and tremendous insight reflecting the relationships he built at all levels of the company. His mix of compassion, understanding and business savvy helped guide ESPN as it went from infancy to adolescence, and even more so as the company grew into the global leader it remains today. “Steve Anderson” and “leader” fit neatly together, and have for 35 years.
Steve joined us just seven months after our launch as a PA in SportsCenter. Fortunately for us, this was shortly after he decided that a career coaching college basketball – he played at Holy Cross, but in his normal self-deprecating style, always jokes that he had “the best seat in the house” – wasn’t a stable career path. Not long after he joined the remote production team, and his credits mirrored the rich diversity of assignments that were the early hallmark of ESPN — the NCAA tournament, college football and basketball, boxing, NBA, USFL and the U.S. Olympic Festival.
Steve then put his stamp on our entry into the NFL with games and studio shows, including the launch of NFL PrimeTime, one of the most successful studio shows in history. Next he was back to SportsCenter, where he worked closely with John A. Walsh to expand and invigorate our cornerstone. Walsh knew news … Steve knew television … and together they set us on a course from which we’ve never looked back. He then moved onto MLB, NHL and motorsports production before taking the reins at ABC Sports in New York in 1996, overseeing all of its production and promotion including Monday Night Football, college football and golf.
In 1999 Steve returned to Bristol, overseeing all our studio and remote production elements, which had grown to include ESPN2, Classic, ESPNEWS, ERT, International and ESPN Radio. Steve’s leadership in this century has helped guide us through enormous growth — ESPN networks’ hallmark has been a large volume of high quality productions — and technical excellence. And now he has to find a place in his home for his more than 40 Emmy trophies.
His current role includes oversight of our Operations and Studio Directing units, Creative Services, the Stats and Information Group and the LA Production Facility. And, true to his commitment to ESPN’s people, he has also recently been a key member of the company’s Diversity Council and is the Executive Champion of ESPN’s women’s ERG (Employee Resource Group).
Steve recently shared how lucky he has been to be a part of the incredible media success story which is ESPN. Many of us would say we have been the fortunate ones.
Congratulations and many thanks, Steve!