The Worldwide Leader

My Hemingway fling is coming to an end.  I’m halfway through The Old Man and the Sea, and though I’m enjoying it, I’m looking forward to my next read.

Those Guys Have All the Fun.

It’s an oral history of our neighbor in Bristol, ESPN, written by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller.  I recently read their oral history of Saturday Night Live, and if their ESPN effort is half as good, I’ll be more than pleased.

Dirt will be dished, but apparently the biggest beating goes to poor Bristol, according to this preview, from Entertainment Weekly’s website:

     The biggest villain in the book? Quite possibly the town of Bristol, Conn., which is apparently so isolated and dull that it drives ESPN execs who work there to all sorts of boorish behavior. “I think part of the sexual harassment stuff was location,” says former ESPN chairman Steve Bornstein. “It’s one hundred miles from real civilization, and you got the kind of testosterone, jock mentality, frat house approach that’s pretty much a recipe for stupid decisions being made.” Or as another exec, Bill Creasy, puts it, “What a s—hole. I mean, what were they thinking [locating ESPN HQ there]?”

Memo to Steve Bornstein from all of us who like Bristol and live within one hundred miles of it:  SCREW YOU.

Having said that, let me add my own small contribution to the ESPN story.

Well before ESPN’s launch in September, 1979, I was called to interview for a job.  I had been the sports director (in charge of a department of one) at WPOP radio, and had been weekend sports anchor at Channel 30, earning the princely sum of $18.50 a night.

I remember sitting in a drafty trailer, being told “You’re young.  We’re thinking of you for the 2am highlights show we’re gonna call ‘Sportscenter.’  Don’t forget, that’s 11pm on the west coast.”

I appreciated the interview, but I didn’t pursue the job.  (I’m not a visionary, OK???)  If I recall correctly, the fledgling network then turned to an even younger sportscaster named Chris Berman. 

He did well.  So did I.  And we still are.  No regrets.

But just for the record???  I would have been fine working in Bristol.

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About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in Cable Hell, It's all about me, Living in the Past, Media, People, Sports and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Worldwide Leader

  1. I worked for an ad agency in Bristol. The excuse that it’s a nowhere town so we can be wild and crazy guys is immature and stupid. The folks with that kind of attitude would be jerks if ESPN were located in, say, Stamford. Or Cannes.

    One of our accounts was the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team. We had some other sports marketing work. I remember one day, an ESPN guy was in our offices. A relative of mine, who was about 15 at the time, was battling cancer. I asked this ESPN guy for a small favor. Maybe he could give me a name and/or a number. Maybe I could get the kid a behind the scenes look at ESPN. He had an interest in becoming a sports news guy.

    I never heard back from the guy. I know, it’s anecdotal evidence. One jerk does not a kingdom of jerks make. Still…

  2. Michael says:

    Bristol was chosen do to its quiet RF (Radio Frequency) location. Anytime I was there doing engineering work, they all thought (even the janitor) that their you-know-what didn’t stink. Sounds like they still do.

  3. Richard says:

    Before you throw Hemingway under the bus you really have to read By Line Ernest Hemingway

  4. NancyB says:

    I get all my books from the library – THIS is one book I will be purchasing. I can’t wait!!! I have the SNL book and it was so much fun to read – I can’t wait for this one.

  5. I loved this story Gerry- the part where Chris Berman was hired because you turned the job down!
    Great stuff!
    btw- I knew Bill Patrick when he went from WFSB to ESPN. At least he always seemed like a nice guy to me.
    But, wait- Keith Olberman was at ESPN.
    Well, that could explain a lot. I recall some of his comments about Bristol- and they weren’t kind.

  6. Mary says:

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you (sorta) Bristol has lots to offer, you have to make time to discover. I would have hated to see you in their company Gerry, you have way to much class.

  7. Michael says:

    $14.99 for a Kindle book… WTF? Jesus… is it THAT good?

  8. Matt Scott says:

    In complete agreement with your assessment of “Live from New York”. I’m looking forward to this one.

    Imagine you in the Berman role – how many nicknames for the rest of us could you come up with? 🙂

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