First Take

Behind the Scenes of First Take with associate producer Delena Turman

 Delena Turman on the set of First Take (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
Delena Turman on the set of First Take.
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

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Front Row is taking fans behind the scenes of First Take through a series of interviews with key production personnel. Next up is Delena Turman, associate producer of First Take.

Turman joined ESPN in March 2014 as lead debate producer. She is now part of a rotation that produces the show and previously produced The College Football Show, and this year produced First Take at the NBA Finals and the ESPYS. First Take is televised on ESPN2 weekdays at 10 a.m. ET. Molly Qerim is the moderator with debaters Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.

What is your role with First Take?
My responsibilities are extremely varied. I am part of an amazing team of coordinating producer Antoine Lewis, producer Kevin Reeder and segment producer Brian Bourque who collaborate daily to put together an informative and entertaining show.

I line produce, or sit in “the chair,” the show about two times per week and debate produce the other days. Debate producing means that I work with Molly to write leads and intros, and also identify elements such as sound and quotes that we use to set up topics.

When I’m producing the show, I lead the morning meeting, create the rundown, make topic suggestions to Skip and Stephen A., determine segment order and incorporate elements to creatively execute the show with director Kurt Ackerman. I also help book guests, work closely with our lively audiences when on the road, assist with licensing new music for the show and work with our social media producer Marcus Matthews to pull off fun social media executions that drive traffic between our platforms.

What is your interaction with Molly, Skip and Stephen A. like?
My interaction and relationship with Molly, Skip and Stephen A. is definitely one of the best parts of my job. I work very closely with all three of them and have taken it upon myself to develop a close relationship with each of them. I’ve loved helping Molly transition into her new role and she has done an excellent job in a short amount of time.

Skip is truly one of the funniest and smartest people I have ever met. We talk about so much beyond First Take or sports. And Stephen A. is never afraid to speak his mind, which I respect greatly. He keeps me on my toes, is incredibly honest and challenges me to be the best producer I can be.

You also produce the espnW presents: Be Honest with Cari Champion podcast.
In my debate producer role, one of my main responsibilities is to work closely with the moderator and get to know her voice and personality. Cari and I had been working very well together for a little over one year when espnW approached her about a podcast.

Cari asked me if this was something I would be interested in working on and I said of course! Five months later and 20 episodes in, we are having a blast and learning so much.

What is the one thing about First Take you want people to know?
The discussions are not scripted. Everything about Skip and Stephen A.’s process and personalities are authentic.

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