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ESPN PRod Pod: Jammin’ with “SportsCenter’s” Jay Harris

Talking storytelling and his well-honed approach to anchoring SC

Welcome to Season 2, Episode 4 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic

Not long after time SportsCenter’s Jay Harris first picked up the bass guitar at the age of 14, he began riffing on what his future career may be. 

“I took one of those career aptitude tests [in high school]. . . and I scored well in the area of interpersonal skills. . .,” he tells Communications Associate Producer and PRod Pod host Jon McLeod. “I looked at the jobs listed and the third job down said ‘Journalist.’ O.K., that’s what I’m going to do. . . It felt like it fit. . . I had tunnel vision. I said that was what I was going to do.” 

Now, nearly 20 years since he joined ESPN, Harris still plays the bass. But it’s the music he makes from the SC desk that has become the soundtrack of sports for hundreds of thousands of sports fans each week. And the similarities are not lost on Harris. 

“I try to get better every day,” he told Front Row in 2017. “If I never get to be the best, that’s fine, I’ll just keep trying to get better every day. I just enjoy playing [bass], like I enjoy my job. If you have fun at what you’re doing, then you’re good.” 

By that barometer, Harris is absolutely superb. He reveals to McLeod some of his keys to the storytelling needed for high-level highlights; a July Fourth shift that turned tragic upon the 2009 news of former NFL quarterback Steve McNair’s death and why he sees a need to be “loud” when the facts get distorted, and, importantly, to “learn from each other.” 

In the concluding “Fab 5” segment with ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe, Harris contemplates his dream ride (a struggle of practicality versus reality), a karaoke choice that would bring the Purple Rain and which SportsCenter anchors would be locks for his band.


Jon McLeod and Kiana Lowe produced the podcast. 

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