ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt joined Austin Bumpus on the 18th episode of Expand On That: A Boston 25 Sports Podcast as the podcast makes its return.
The 17-year ESPN veteran discussed his time at the network, following a stint with the Golf Channel.
“I’ve been here since 2001, and it’s changed massively from then,” ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt said. “There was still no BottomLine [ESPN’s news and information ticker], there was still no Twitter. You weren’t fighting with the Internet.”
Van Pelt is the solo host of the midnight edition of SportsCenter, with a revamped format and new segments that have brought sports fans back to the original days of the program’s history.
“I’m sitting on a set as a one-man host of a show that’s sort of a hybrid of radio, and demands more opinion of the host and looks for more personality from the host,” Van Pelt said. “That wouldn’t have happened five years ago, I don’t think.”
Personalities were a make-or-break part of the business in its early stages, helping ESPN and Van Pelt stand out in a time where the sports world was looking for a leader.
“I think, again, you go back to [Chris] Berman, was the godfather of the place in terms of the highlight,” Van Pelt said. “You talk about energy and the nicknames and the whole bit that he would do. Rich Eisen, Stuart Scott, Kenny Mayne has been and continues to be an entirely unique voice and mind in our business.”
Van Pelt discussed the rise of players controlling their own messages, with the rise of social media and sites like The Players’ Tribune having a massive impact.
“Players, more than ever, are aware of that,” Van Pelt said. “Those that want to craft an image and are careful about it and want to continue to control the message, which is fair, you want to be in charge of your message and your content.”
Van Pelt also dove into the future of the sports world, wondering what’s next as sports fans’ interests constantly shift.
“It’s a hard riddle to solve, and it’s one that, on a daily basis, we’re trying to figure out how to get right for us,” Van Pelt said. “I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a bunch of smart people. And we figure if it lands in a good place for us, then it’ll will for our viewers, as well.”
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