I got to talk to @stevebraband (Steve Braband) recently to discuss his celebrity status at ESPN, how he got there and how he reps the Burgh.
First off, Steve is a great guy for doing this. He went over and above for an amazing interview, and although he has probably told the story 1000's of times he was nice enough to sit down with me and put it down so most of you can see it.
Without wasting anymore time here is what Steve had to say:
1) So you work at ESPN and are a pretty big deal, we know that you were the man in a lot of commercials so give us an idea of how you got that role and what went into getting it.
Well first things first, I am the farthest thing from a pretty big deal here at ESPN. I like to think of myself as "just that guy" who has a pretty cool job. I would much rather be considered a fan first than an on-air presence ... which is maybe why I dont have my own TV show. That ... and I don't know how to fist pump.
Anyways, that was somewhat of a smooth segway to answer your question. In the summer of 2008, the company held tryouts for someone to be the focal point of the SportsCenter AM ad campaign - to make a long story short - I applied alongside 250some of my co-workers (my tryout videos are on youtube by I'm not linking them cause it's horrifying to watch), and after two different auditions, they picked this guy. Main reason why, is I guess that I came across as a regular joe-schmoe fanboy.
They wanted someone who wouldnt try to be a sportscenter anchor, but would talk about the Steelers (sports) non-stop and be willing to get pied in the face without knowing.
It was awesome to say the least - 2 weeks of me having a blast and being on the tube. I'd do it every year if I could. Those commercials helped me transition into my role with the WWL today and helped as a super awkard ice breaker when people introduce me to their friends "Remember that kid ... who was live on ESPN... and wore a big clock!?!?" "Uhhh...yeah....."
2) Being originally from Pittsburgh do you bring some of the black and gold spice to Bristol?
Yes. Very much so. I am known as a passionate Steeler fan. Many people who are "on-air" have to be fair and not biased - not me. In most of my situations at work, I am very obnoxious about my Pittsburgh love. Quick story - Two years ago, my buddy Pat (@PatMuldowney on Twitter) and I went to the Steelers - Pats game in Foxboro. Never in my life have I had more fun at a football game. Advice for all fans (especially Steeler fans), go to an away game as the enemy. Great feeling when you smack the other team. By the end of the 3rd quarter, our section was all Steeler fans and we were chanting Here We Go Steelers as Mr. Patriots sulked his way out of Foxboro, wiping his tears away with his Tom Brady jersey.
I also try to attend a Pens-Bruins game once a year (Boston is less than two hours away). Walking into that arena in a Crosby jersey is a great feeling. Especially when we win. Two years ago, after the Red Sox where eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Rays, I got a bunch of crap in the restroom (no pun) for wearing my Crosby jersey. I slowly broke out in a B-J-UPTON chant and silenced the crowd. An older gentleman told me I should probably "leave now." That made my evening.
I am slowly trying to spread the hockey/Pens love to the area as well. This town misses the Hartford Whalers more than Joey Porter misses playing for winning teams (wooo), so I am encouraging them to join the Pens bandwagon.
3) There are parts of every job that go unnoticed, or the unglamorous tasks, give us an idea about a few things that you do during a normal day for ESPN that some might not realize.
Well for starters, I edit mostly all of my stuff. Editing is fun as hell, but it can also be very annoying when you have to look at yourself on film and figure what to cut. I hate my voice right now. No way I could work in the cartoon buisness. Heh? Seriously though, it's tough. I have learned a lot from it however - you know what works and what doesn't. If anything, it's a great skill to have and I encourage anyone that asks me about working here is to "learn how to edit video." It helps get you own your stuff and put your stamp on your work. Make sense?
4) If you can give us your top three moments since you have been up there with ESPN.
3. This (some of my best work)
2. Sounds dumb, but ever since I understood comedy, Adam Sandler was my hero. He was up in Bristol promoting Grown Ups (aka "Me and My Buddies Make Fart jokes for 90 Minutes") and I didn't get the chance to talk to him or do in an interview, but the comedy gods were smiling down on me as Mr Sandler strolled through the news room, waving to people and he patted me on my back and said hello. So dumb, but yet, so awesome to see the guy i've quoted a million times.
1. The commercials ... and yes I am lumping all 268 into one category. I got pied in the face, hung out with future criminals
and dominated Bristol for two straight weeks - all on LIVE TV. They ended two years ago this past August and I miss it every day.
The only way I could beat that, would be taking a kung fu class from Greg Lloyd with LaMarr Woodley, Max Talbot, Geno, and Wesley Snipes while Metallica plays For Whom The Bell Tolls during my live one hour television special entitled "Yinz on My TV and What Not"
5) You get to work with a lot of pretty cool people up there and get to meet some athletes and well know people. Who are some of the best you have worked with over your time.
The best athletes that come through are usually the ones that are lesser known. Saints Super Bowl hero, Tracy Porter was awesome, Willie McGinest (all though he was a former Brown) let us call Warren G on his cell phone (unreal) and Sam Bradford was a super nice dude. The best are the guys you see on a daily basis up here and work for ESPN. Marcellus Wiley might be the coolest guy known to man. Herm Edwards ... man ... whenever Coach Herm is present in the newsroom, productivity goes up 100%. He just has this presence of awesomeness.
All the anchors and ESPN on-air talent are great people. Everyone is willing to help and I have received feedback from some on what they like and what they didn't about my on-air work - very supportive atmosphere. Trey Wingo is quite the nerd though. Kidding. I owe that man a lot, I watched him growing up as a kid on SportsCenter and now I ask him for advice and joke around with him in the newsroom. Surreal to think that actually happens.
6) Working in media relations myself I know that it is a lot of long hours and tough work. Although your spot is more upbeat than mine is there still are some long days right?
Yeah man - long days are the norm. Week 1 of the NFL season was crazy. When I was in LA for the ESPYS, sleep was out of the question. 2-3 hour power naps were the norm. It fly's by however, you're running a million miles an hour and doing stuff you love, hanging out in the sports world. "Long days" in the sense that they are "brutal" and "painful" happen as well ... but you got to suck it up and as Jay-Z says (and Cotter @OFTOT quotes after Steelers losses) it's "...on to the next one!"
7) So do you have long term aspirations to stay at ESPN?
Yeah man. The company is awesome. One of the most over-looked and underated aspects of this job - is that there is a TV.AT.MY.DESK. Not many jobs in the workplace allow you to keep an eye on an afternoon baseball game or SportsCenter. During the World Cup, the newsroom was like a bar. It's weird to think we get paid for this.
I got a lot of work to do though if I want to stick around and continue to do some of these funner things. There is so much talent here and within this company that you got to be prepared and ready for anything. If they want to keep me on the squad, I'll give it 110%. How is that for a horrible sports pun?!?
8) Anything else you want to talk about really in this one.
Yes I'd love to talk about the current economic climate. Kidding. I seriously truly believe the Steelers are the team to beat in the AFC. Complete bias aside. There isnt a running back in the league that can run on the defense (ask CJ) and with Ben hopefully playing like a man possessed (think - Incredible Hulk) we could be in for an awesome run. Also, never ever forget, as much as it sucks, and as much as our owner likes skiing instead of signing free-agents - LETS. GO. BUCS.
I guess the law requires me to mention the Pens as well. They'll be fine. Chill out yinz. Trade Console.
9) Most importantly when are you getting me a job at ESPN? ha
Tomorrow. You can be my lacky. Pick me up a sausage egg and cheese scmuffin from Sheetz (not applicable in Bristol) and I need 68 pictures of Louis Lipps. I would actually love to be in a position to make ESPN become a headquarters for anything and everything Pittsburgh sports. The world needs more Pirates highlights on their television.
I just wanted to say thanks again to Steve. It was real cool to talk to him and if you are not following him on Twitter then you need to get your head checked. He does great work and he is a better person.