ESPN’s 40th straight year of televising the NFL Draft soars to new heights this weekend as, for the first time, the flagship event appears simultaneously on ESPN and ABC. Coordinating technical director Kendra Walter, who joined ESPN in June 2010 and worked on ESPN’s coverage of the 2019 College Football Playoff, explains how this production comes to life.
How did you get into technical directing?
I went to [the University of] Missouri for its journalism school. Right away, I volunteered at a local TV station, shooting high school football highlights. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to be a reporter, that wasn’t really the lifestyle I wanted. But since I was working at a TV station, I had the chance to see the other job functions. I found my way into a control room and never left. In the control room, I started out doing graphics, learning audio, floor directing. I really just worked my way up to TD [technical director].
What does a technical director do?
I am responsible for the visual execution of the show. In the simplest terms, I combine cameras, video, and graphics into the show you see on TV. I also have opportunities to create special effects for quick turnaround, like making a fake taxi drive around the studio – complete with spinning tires! My job is important, but it really takes a whole crew to make the show happen.
What separates the NFL Draft from other events you’ve worked?
Typically when I’m on remote, I’m the only TD there. At an event like the NFL Draft, there are several TDs, and they’re all Bristol-based. These are people that I work with daily. I’m comfortable asking them questions that I don’t usually get a chance to ask when I’m out on my own. We’ve got a great team here, and they’re all happy to help you grow and succeed – it’s also nice to see friendly faces on the road!
What are you most excited about for the NFL Draft?
I’m excited for the challenge. I’m working with equipment I don’t use very often, and scenarios that I don’t typically face while working in-house in Bristol. It’s fun to get out of your comfort zone and remind yourself that you can do this. Every remote I’ve been on, I’ve walked away with a new piece of knowledge or understanding. It will make me better at my job, which is really rewarding.
NFL Draft Coverage Continues: Today (7-11:30 p.m. ET): NFL Draft, Rounds 2 and 3 – ABC, ESPN/ESPN2, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio;
Saturday, April 27 (12-7 p.m. ET): NFL Draft, Rounds 4–7 – ABC (simulcast of ESPN telecast), ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio. For more information, visit ESPN Press Room.