Front Row is taking viewers behind the scenes of First Take through a series of interviews with key production personnel. Next up is Therese Andrews, project manager, whose main focus is the remote productions for the show. She is currently heavily involved in the final planning for First Take’s live shows at Super Bowl 50, Feb. 3-5, in the Bay Area.
For the past four months, First Take has posted its most-watched, highest-rated months ever. First Take airs 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 and what has been your job progression at ESPN?
I started at ESPN in production operations, gaining a strong technical background, before transferring to a production coordinator role with the ESPN2 studio shows. The landscape of the shows changed rapidly over the last few years as the calendar became filled with live remote shows, specialty shoots and stunts.
My career progressed as the shows developed, and the project manager role was formed to focus on overseeing and streamlining the process for remote shows. I lead location search and selection, budgeting, audience logistics and contribute to overall show planning. First Take has given me an opportunity that strikes a balance in my technical, creative, managing, and organizational interests. Having a chance to fine tune those skills while having fun at the same time has been irreplaceable.
What contributes most to the success of the remotes?
The energy of our audience brings a special, added dimension to shows on the road. Many of the fans wait overnight for the opportunity to be on our set. The live crowd participation fuels the environment and it translates on screen at home for the viewers.
What do you consider a successful production?
That’s a hard one to answer specifically because it’s a balance of many variables. If I had to pick a personal top five: interesting and informative discussion, fan engagement and interaction, flawless technical execution, creation of a show environment at a great location and cohesive teamwork.
First Take was recently in Arizona for the CFP National Championship. What preparation goes into making those productions run smoothly?
It really is the hard work of many. We start planning these big events about a year in advance. We get heavy in planning about six months prior while balancing planning for the other projects we have concurrently. The CFP National Championship was the first time that First Take broadcasted in the same location as Mike & Mike. It was an exciting challenge to think about the remote execution for these two shows back to back in the same venue. We’re looking forward to doing it again at the Super Bowl.