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How to Bring “First Take” on the Road

Senior Production Coordinator Elizabeth Hembekides explains how you pack up a show and bring it to the Las Vegas strip for the 2022 NFL Draft

First Take is taking its show to Las Vegas for the 2022 NFL Draft and if you think Stephen A. Smith burns brightly from New York City, wait until he gets to the Neon Capital of the World.

With host Molly Qerim and a bevy of OPINIONS and guests – ESPN’s full coverageFirst Take will originate from the network’s studio at the LINQ in Las Vegas for NFL Draft shows on Thursday and Friday (10 a.m. ET).

Front Row caught up with First Take Senior Production Coordinator Elizabeth Hembekides, a veteran of more than 60 remote events with FT, to learn more of what goes into making on-location episodes memorable. Hembekides, a Quinnipiac University graduate, who interned at ESPN in 2012 before being hired full-time in 2013, handles all of the show’s production’s logistics and collaborates with ESPN colleagues from across operations, directing, security, and other departments to ensure successful remote events.

            Hembekides’s 3 Keys to a                          Successful First Take Roadshow

  1. Fan experience
  2. Specialty content surrounding the event
  3. Constantly evolving processes and strategies to create efficiencies for the entire crew

What was the planning process like for this year’s Draft shows?
It was a new experience since it is the first time we’ll originate from the ESPN Las Vegas Studios at the LINQ. With so many new elements, it has been extra rewarding to see it all come together.

 Do you have a favorite FT remote memory?
One I will never forget is the road show at Florida A&M University. It was our first full remote back after the shutdown and it was such an honor to be a part of FAMU’s homecoming celebration. I love getting the opportunity to work with HBCUs and their students and staff brought an amazing energy to the show that day.

L-R Production Mgr, Jodi Brits; Hembekides; Production Mgr, Jess Kraus
Hembekides on First Take Set in Las Vegas

“Daily episodes of First Take run smoothly because of the countless hours put in behind the scenes and that’s even more important when it comes to road shows. Elizabeth is constantly balancing the logistics of the Monday-Friday shows while simultaneously making sure events that are weeks and months away are falling into place. Our Las Vegas shows are another impressive showcase of her day-in, day-out dedication and effort.” – Antoine Lewis, ESPN Vice President, Production

L-R Qerim and Hembekides

And Babies Make Four!


If the “Hembekides” name rings familiar for ESPN viewers – or maybe you know it better as “ Sneaky Hembo” – it’s because Elizabeth’s husband, Paul, is a content producer for Get Up, who often appears on the show to stump the commentators with stats and trivia.

And as Draft week unfolds, the couple had its own major announcement involving future “diaper dandies” – they are expecting twins in September.

First Take in April

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