ESPN reporter and host Jen Lada, a two-time Sports Emmy Award winner, recently signed a multiyear extension and will continue to contribute to ESPN’s storytelling across multiple shows and platforms, including College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, Outside the Lines, E60 and SC Featured. She will also continue contributing to various shows on ESPN Radio.
Lada, who recently earned a Sports Emmy for her E:60-produced “Hilinski’s Hope” feature, files her first story of the 2020 college football season tomorrow during College GameDay (9 a.m. – noon ET). With producer Mary Reilly, Lada examines how players and coaches are approaching and adjusting to college football in the COVID-19 era.
“Jen makes so many important contributions to ESPN, including high-quality storytelling which reaches across various sports, including college football,” said Vice President, Production, Seth Markman. “The impact of the stories she’s highlighted not only showcase her talents but show how important she is to the team.”
Front Row spoke with Lada about her storytelling and why she is excited to continue her ESPN career.
What does it mean to you to continue your work at ESPN?
I appreciate that ESPN values my talent and contributions. It’s been such an unusual year, but through all the uncertainty, I think we’ve seen the importance of documenting the details. To inform and educate while encouraging dialogue, understanding, and empathy. A compelling, well-told story has the power to connect people, and it’s not a job I take lightly. I truly appreciate people trusting me with their journeys and the opportunity to continue telling meaningful stories on our many platforms.
Is there a person at ESPN who has mentored you, helped you, or just someone you particularly admire?
It would be impossible to single out one person at ESPN who I admire or has positively impacted me. I try to watch our best on-air people closely to see how they carry themselves, interact with teammates, and perform under pressure. Our College GameDay crew – across the board – is exceptional. I admire Jeremy Schaap, Scott Van Pelt, Suzy Kolber and Elle Duncan for how effortless they make their respective jobs look.
I also appreciate how much my managers and supervisors have had my back over the years – encouraging me and complimenting my work. Feedback is critical to improvement, and I couldn’t possibly get better without their investment and input.
How has the role of storytelling, in sports and beyond, shaped you as a reporter and person?
All we do – all day long – is tell stories. Ours and others’. To our friends, families, followers. It’s true of everyone – an incredible commonality when you really think about it.
Being a good storyteller requires curiosity and listening. Empathy and acceptance. Caution and concern. The longer I do this job, the more I find myself leaning into those spaces.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to her national ESPN role, Lada can now be heard on ESPN Milwaukee as the new co-host of Jen, Gabe and Chewy (7–9 a.m. CT).