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Producing Pioneer: After Two Decades At ESPN, Kerry Callahan Takes On New Championship Challenge

Storyteller sees unique circumstances of 2021 event as "an opportunity to rethink the way we cover the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament"

Coordinating producer Pat Lowry says of Kerry Callahan (above): “She worked her entire career to be ready to take on this role. We are very proud of her.”
(Kerry Callahan/ESPN)

ESPN college basketball producer Kerry Callahan will take over producing responsibilities for the NCAA Women’s Final Four this weekend as the sport crowns a new national champion.

Callahan, the first woman to serve as producer of the Women’s Final Four, has an impressive resume that spans more than 20 years at ESPN. Front Row caught up with Callahan and coordinating producers Pat Lowry and Kate Jackson. to discuss the new role and how this weekend’s games couldn’t be in better hands.

“ESPN’s commitment to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship allowed us to select almost any producer at the company to lead this telecast,” said Lowry. “Kerry was the clear choice. She worked her entire career to be ready to take on this role. We are very proud of her. It is an added bonus that she is a woman.”

“Not only is Kerry a great producer, she is an incredible leader,” added Jackson. “Kerry is thoughtful and pragmatic. She creates a space where all ideas are welcome and valued. The result is a creative and cohesive telecast that’s really fun to watch. In a time where representation matters, Kerry is a shining example for all the women who will follow in her footsteps.”

Callahan answered the questions below.

Walk us through your journey at ESPN.
I have been at ESPN for more than 20 years. I started in 2000 as an event production PA. I have remained in events ever since, working a variety of different sports that include college basketball, college football, NFL, MLB, tennis, golf, and Special Olympics.

What is it like to prepare for an event like the Women’s Final Four?
This year is a unique challenge because the event itself is unlike anything we have covered, so discussion and planning have been crucial every step of the way. There are changes constantly happening as we figure out what works in this new format and what we might do differently in the future. It has been a terrific learning experience and an opportunity to rethink the way we cover the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

What does it mean to take on this new role, and how does it feel to be the first woman to produce the Women’s Final Four?
It is an honor to get the opportunity to produce the Women’s Final Four. The passion of the players and coaches is so genuine, and we love being able to cover the sport on its biggest stage. Our production and technical personnel are so talented, and it’s incredible to be surrounded by such a supportive team. We all feel it is a true privilege to document the crowning of the next NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Champion.

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