EDITOR’S NOTE: The Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN, again has been recognized as an ideal place to work. The New York Times Magazine recently published the results of a survey of millennials asked to name their ideal future employer – Disney ranked second only to Google. Fortune Magazine also named Disney on its list of the world’s most admired companies. In observance of National Employee Appreciation Day, Front Row shares a video celebrating ESPN’s diverse workforce and their diverse talents. ESPN Vice President, Production Operations, Stacey Fitch, reveals how the music video above came to be.
ESPN’s Production Operations team brought its symphony of talent together to champion the ESPN diversity and inclusion mission to ensure “everyone gets to play.” The resulting music video, complete with an original song, was produced to express the depth of talent, voices and energies that exist every day, behind the scenes, bringing ESPN to life for sports fans.
Keith Stuhr, Production Operations Manager and originator of the concept, found himself inspired by the story of gifted singer/songwriter Stephania “Teff” Martinez and her transition to ESPN. Teff was born in Venezuela, raised in Miami and moved to Connecticut in 2014 to start her career as an Audio Operator at ESPN. Teff often talked with Keith about her transition to Connecticut and how the people of ESPN were at the core of making it a positive experience.
After a pitch to Jackson Davis, director of Diversity and Inclusion, and with unanimous support from senior members of Prod Ops management, Teff and Jason Finberg, lead Audio Communications specialist, set to work writing an original piece. Jason, musically talented in his own right, welcomed nearly a dozen co-workers into his home studio to record the various instruments that add to the song’s flavor. Saxophone, trumpet, banjo, violin, piano (among others) punctuate the diverse blend of genres encompassed in this song that boasts flairs of folk, pop, country, salsa and rap.
As the catchy tune was coming together, another group of talented Production Operations members were developing the video where the song and the diversity message would be showcased. Among the key players: coordinating Studio Operator Mark Medaglia and supervisor, Studio Operations AJ Watson, scripted the visual story. Medaglia also directed a team of skilled production colleagues to carry out that story, bringing fans into the heart of each operational area. Associate supervisor, Production Control Room Danielle O’Connell organized participants’ schedules across the department. Lead technical director Carrie Mecklem choreographed and helped produce each scene. Audio assistant Kera Francis penned an original rap solo.
Collectively, this culture-inspired production involved more than 150 employees from Austin, Texas, Bristol, Conn., Charlotte, N.C. and Los Angeles. The result is a celebration of ESPN’s people and the collective differences that come together to create the most amazing experiences.