Above: Here’s ESPN senior associate producer Courtni Regan’s Spotify playlist for ESPN’s sessions on the NHL Player Media Tour in Las Vegas in September. See behind-the-scenes photos below. (Illustration: Andrea DiCristoforo and Rich Arden/ESPN)
With the NHL season returning for the second year of The Walt Disney Company’s seven-year deal, Courtni Regan and ESPN’s NHL production team were recently in Las Vegas for the annual Player Media Tour (PMT).
The PMT is an opportunity for ESPN and other NHL rights holders to meet with the clubs’ top stars to conduct interviews, photo and video shoots. Here’s another important aspect of the event: It provides a chance to create and gather content for ESPN game and studio productions, marketing, PR, and social media throughout the entire season.
The two-day event also provides a unique opportunity for the production team to try new technology, test new concepts, and push the creative vision for the look and feel of the company’s NHL coverage.
While Regan is involved in several aspects of ESPN’s NHL production, including the creative look for what goes on air, the senior associate producer also created a bit of a reputation for herself as the music aficionado of the team.
It is very important to help each player feel comfortable by providing something familiar to him in a setting that can feel awkward to some. I usually run with songs from there, even if I can find one song they like or a genre. – ESPN NHL senior associate producer Courtni Regan on setting the musical mood for NHL Player Media Tour sessions
The role of “DJ” isn’t officially in Regan’s job description; her passion for music gets to shine as she deftly curates each athlete’s playlist to get him excited for the work ahead. A week before the PMT, Regan begins the tedious process of hand-selecting songs for each athlete on set. Then, throughout each shoot, Regan uses her broad knowledge of music to adjust the playlist, adding songs that fit into an athlete’s preferred genre.
Regan, who has worked for ESPN for 11 years, explains one of her many roles at the NHL Player Media Tour. Sample her Spotify NHL Player Media Tour playlist above and view behind-the-scenes photos from Lifeguard Arena in Henderson, Nev., below.
How did you come up with the idea to make music playlists for each of the players here today?
I’m of the mindset that music can alter anyone’s mood or attitude. It is very important to help each player feel comfortable by providing something familiar to him in a setting that can feel awkward to some. I usually run with songs from there, even if I can find one song they like or a genre.
My knowledge of songs is pretty broad, which is helpful when thinking of songs on the fly. I also did this for a few tennis portrait shoots, which is always a game-changer.
When did you start planning for the PMT?
I start about a week out looking for different songs. We get a list of players ahead of time, so I usually go through the list and make notes of the player’s favorite music or song. I search for interviews they have done, their team arena’s playlists, and their social media for inspiration.
Sometimes I can tell what kind of music they like through their Instagram captions. For example, if they quote a Drake lyric.
From there, I will combine all the songs into a playlist and usually remember who likes which music. Most guys like Rock, Rap/Hip-Hop, or Country. There are some EDM [Electronic Dance Music] lovers as well. If for some reason, I can’t find anything, we ask them when they get to our set, and I quickly brainstorm some songs that can work.
Lights, @CamAtkinson89. 💡🎥🎬
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) September 15, 2022
Have you gotten any feedback directly from the players or even made observations if they’re feeling their jams?
Yes! Quite a bit, which has been nice to hear and see. [Pittsburgh Penguins center] Sidney Crosby, [Anaheim Ducks center] Trevor Zegras, and a few others have made comments, or you can tell by their body language. They are loose and feel the music as they’re posing, which comes across the camera.
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