SBD/February 22, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Catching Up With ESPN Radio Senior VP & GM Mo Davenport

Davenport said he wants to see ESPN's local business grow and prosper and get stronger
ESPN Radio Senior VP & GM MO DAVENPORT has witnessed the evolution of the sports radio industry during his time in the business, all the way up to ESPN's current cross-platform audio initiatives. Davenport recently took some time to explain how social media has affected sports radio and discuss his goals for ESPN's future efforts. He also shares some of his fondest memories and favorite moments during his time in the business.

Favorite…
Vacation spot: Atlantis in the Bahamas
TV show: “Good Morning America”
Sports event: Tour de France
Time of year: Spring

Q: What was your first job in sports media and what is your fondest memory from it?
Davenport: My first real job in media was ABC Sports in N.Y. and it was like one of those dream jobs where you traveled around to football games and baseball games and basketball games with a credential, working with some of the titans of the business. My fondest memories were just being credentialed at a "Monday Night Football" game or an Olympics or something like that. That was pretty cool.

Q: What is something people would be surprised to learn that occurs during a typical day at the office?
Davenport: I have to work around the chaos of shooting ESPN “This is SportsCenter” commercials. Like this past week, where CAM NEWTON is walking down the hall or they’ve got a film crew outside my office with HOPE SOLO and people like that. It’s just like every day. And you have to navigate through what most people would say is really cool.

Q: What is the biggest change you have witnessed in sports radio since you have been in the business?
Davenport: The transformation from being radio to audio. ESPN has developed the mantra, which I believe is the correct way to look at sports, serving sports fans anywhere, anytime they want sports. … It all starts with great content. As long as you have great content and people have demands for that content, I think it’s our obligation to find the best and smartest way to get it to them.

Q: How has social media affected sports radio?
Davenport: I think positively. First of all, radio and now audio for us, is one medium that’s been extraordinarily interactive. Radio was taking calls and bringing the fan in before it was fashionable. Our social media strategy allows us to use every methodology, e-mails, phone calls, Twitter, and the fan really has a voice in the type of content that we produce and the type of topics that we take on. … Before it was like we are assuming, we being the production people, are assuming we know what you want, so we’re going to give that to you.

Q: What is one of the funniest stories or most memorable moments you have from sports radio?
Davenport: I remember when I first came to ESPN ... MIKE (GREENBERG) and MIKE (GOLIC) had a cow in the studio and it was payoff of a bet. BUSTER OLNEY, who grew up on a farm in Vermont, helped us get a cow into the studio and Mike Greenberg had to milk a cow. So if that was my introduction into the business, I’m not sure if we can go anyplace but downhill from there because it was one of the funniest things I ever saw.

Q: What is the next big thing you want to accomplish in your role at ESPN?
Davenport: I really want to see our local business grow and prosper and get stronger. … I just think that ESPN has the opportunity to really grow and strengthen its brand and serve its sports fans. Not just on a national basis but on a local basis as well, and I think we’re getting there. … That is a big, big business and we’re just now starting to see the results of putting great content together and then it becomes a good opportunity to market for local advertisers. With ESPN being a worldwide brand, I think there are opportunities for us in the local space and I’d like to see our ESPN Audio team lead in that area.

Q: What sports business story are you following most closely right now?
Davenport: I’m always interested in what’s going on in N.Y. I think we have some opportunities to strengthen our signal there. I think we have some opportunities to have a Deportes operation in N.Y. So I’m particularly interested in what’s going on with all the stations and the maneuvers and machinations going on in that N.Y. market right now. As a team that’s invested in that marketplace, we always look for opportunities and it seems there’s a lot of news coming out of N.Y. these days.
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