Vice President, ESPN Audio Network Content Dave Roberts recently added leadership of First Take production to his portfolio. First Take, featuring Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim, moves to ESPN (from ESPN2) on January 3. The fast-paced, two-hour, live program focuses on the most thought-provoking and entertaining topics of the day from the world of sports and is aired weekdays at 10 a.m. ET. Here, Roberts shares some of his thoughts on the show, the move and what makes First Take work.
First Take moving to ESPN is simply part of an overall strategy to leverage the strengths of our company, to better showcase a strong franchise and to strengthen our commitment to serving sports fans. The move has been in the works for quite some time. The actual timing is perfect as we head towards a series of major events, which include the College Football Playoff National Championship, the Super Bowl, the NBA All-Star Game and the NFL Draft.
The entire First Take team is doing an outstanding job of planning special surprises for the move and beyond. You can count on seeing memorable guests, additional voices joining the discussions and debates and a commitment to showcasing a sense of team both on-air and behind-the-scenes. It’s been refreshing to see Stephen A. take a lead role in crafting the strongest daily content for the program. Equally, the contributions from Max and Molly in building a high-impact spirit of team are enhancing our efforts for the present and future growth of the show.
Since taking over production leadership, I have found the staff extremely hard working, and not complacent. As a result, there is a drive within the team that is leading to constant brainstorming and a never-ending search for ways to improve both on-air and behind the scenes. During production and strategy meetings, I’ve been extremely impressed with the exchange of ideas between the on-air and behind-the-scenes crew, as well as a strong desire for smart risk-taking. A good example of that has been the “Final Take” segment which debuted earlier this month.
At the end of the day, we are in the business of informing, and making people think as they watch the program. It is truly impressive to see how prepared Stephen A., Max and Molly are, knowing what potential menu of topics will resonate with the audience. While the on-air debates are never scripted or rehearsed, the debate about which topics to cover begins during the morning meeting, so for me it’s fun to see how that process becomes excellent television. That happens only when you have people who are knowledgeable and willing to produce a product unlike any other. Safe to say that the entire First Take team is committed to building on those attributes.
All of this underscores that everyone is working smarter and harder to produce the very best product every day. January 3rd is just the beginning of a new chapter for this program. Our goal is to continue building on the success stories and leadership position established by First Take as we grow and enhance what is already a compelling television experience.
For more with Dave Roberts, visit BlackSportsOnline.