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Welcome to Season 2, Episode 7 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.It’s no mistake Kati Fernandez’s LinkedIn “About” section includes this key line: “Purpose-driven teammate and leader.” It’s something the Holy Cross graduate lives each and every day in her role as Director, Content Development & Integration at ESPN+ and ESPN Films.“What I pride myself in being cool at, is serving,” Fernandez tells PRod Pod host Jon McLeod. “I don't mind what we're doing. I know that I'm gonna be a great teammate, pick up the baton, look at other ways, figure out how I can be a better teammate, figure out how I can be a better employee, figure out how I can be a better daughter, sister, friend, colleague, insert the word there.”So, whether it’s immersing herself in the emerging space of NFTs for a Tom Brady project in conjunction with ESPN+’s Man in the Arena or finding ways to expand the depth of storytelling within ESPN’s “Fifty/50” Title IX inititative, Fernandez interacts with colleagues from all across Disney to ensure the amazing work being created is being creatively injected into all of the incredible platforms throughout the enterprise.Fernandez’s interests are as varied as the content she interacts with as we learn in the concluding “Fab 5” segment which is guest-hosted by ESPN Summer 2022 Intern Katera Brewer. From a track and field itch Fernandez wishes she had scratched to her favorite “30 for 30” to important work in helping youth education in her native Dominican Republic, Fernandez fills her days fulfilling that promise of being a “purpose-driven teammate and leader.”And as she shares, “milestones come and go, but what stays is what we've planted.”Kati Fernandez on LinkedIn
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 6 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.Just past Raina Kelley’s one-year anniversary of being named Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Andscape (formerly The Undefeated), she visits with PRod Pod host Jon McLeod to discuss the transformation of the platform and her guiding principles as Andscape evolves.“Basketball [in the bubble] showed us, through its actions, that the time to be. . . subtle – was over,” says Kelley, who studied theatre arts at Yale University (Class of 1992). “The way to assert your voice was to just go ahead and use it.”In the concluding “Fab 5” segment with ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe, Kelley shares some deep Whitney Houston respect and offers the perfect combo for a balanced life: “coffee and sleep.” 
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 5 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic. There are several very good reasons ESPN Vice President, Social Media, Kaitee Daley has been named to the prestigious Sports Business Journal “40 Under 40” list.  (View List)  In fact, there’s something like 430 million reasons – because that’s the amount of impressions ESPN’s 25 different brands generate DAILY over five main social platforms (Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Facebook).   “When you see ESPN in those environments,” Daley, a graduate of Bowdoin College, tells Communications Associate Producer and PRod Pod host Jon McLeod, "chances are it comes from the great team I have the privilege to lead.” The conversation goes on to include a peek at Daley’s “typical day,” her pioneering efforts at the start of ESPN’s social immersion and her admiration for the late Pat Summitt. In the concluding “Fab 5” segment with ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe, Daley names her current, favorite platform, her small(ish) dog named Moose and the eternal, vexing social media question: “When’s the best time to post?”   
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 4 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.Not long after time SportsCenter’s Jay Harris first picked up the bass guitar at the age of 14, he began riffing on what his future career may be.“I took one of those career aptitude tests [in high school]. . . and I scored well in the area of interpersonal skills. . .,” he tells Communications Associate Producer and PRod Pod host Jon McLeod. “I looked at the jobs listed and the third job down said ‘Journalist’. Okay that’s what I’m going to do. . . It felt like it fit. . . I had tunnel vision. I said that was what I was going to do.”Now, nearly 20 years since he joined ESPN, Harris still plays the bass but it’s the music he makes from the SC desk that has become the soundtrack of sports for hundreds of thousands of sports fans each week. And the similarities are not lost on Harris.“I try to get better every day,” he told Front Row in 2017. “If I never get to be the best, that’s fine, I’ll just keep trying to get better every day. I just enjoy playing, like I enjoy my job. If you have fun at what you’re doing, then you’re good.”By that barometer, Harris is absolutely superb and he reveals to McLeod some of his keys to the storytelling needed for high-level highlights; a July 4th shift that turned tragic upon the 2009 news of Steve McNair’s tragic death and why he sees a need to be “loud” when the facts get distorted, and, importantly, to “learn from each other.”In the concluding “Fab 5” segment with ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe, Harris contemplates his dream ride (a struggle of practicality vs. reality), a Karaoke choice that would bring the Purple Rain and which SportsCenter anchors (or offspring??) would be locks for his band – maybe looking at you, Elle and Eva!
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 3 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.Arda Öcal’s first appearance on SportsCenter – a place he now calls one of his homes at ESPN – came in a most unusual way.As he tells Communications Associate Producer and PRod Pod host Jon McLeod, Öcal never could have imagined he would go from a 2-minute television hit to the varied roles he now has for ESPN.“We recapped everything that was happening [at the League of Legends tournament] and that [report] aired on SportsCenter, which was surreal to me, because imagine growing up loving sports and dreaming of being on SportsCenter and the first time that you ever appear on SportsCenter in the United States is for video games?!” he said. “Like no, who had, who had that as a prop bet? No one, that. . . was. . .  like plus 80,000, you know?”But the ticket cashed and Öcal could not be more enthusiastic about the opportunities in front of him.In the concluding “Fab 5” segment with ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe, Öcal delves deeper into his inner-gamer, and humblebrags about knocking out Mike Tyson. . . in Mario Kart (true story!).
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 2 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.Talk about making an impact. ESPN Vice President, Digital Production Mike Foss first arrived in Bristol, Conn., in 2017; less than five years later he oversees the burgeoning, industry-leading ESPN digital empire, including ESPN’s YouTube presence, SportsCenter on Snapchat, multiple digital studio and live (often on-site) presentations, Podcasts, ESPN+ studio offerings and the newly-launched, mid-day program, “Debateable.”As Communications Associate Producer and PRod Pod host Jon McLeod discovers, what is surely NOT debateable is how Foss and his team are impacting the way fans consume ESPN.“We had 1.2 billion views in October,” Foss tells McLeod, “no media publisher has ever done that.”And virtually every month, ESPN Digital eclipses its previous highs across key metrics. Foss shares his overall philosophy for digital content and zeroes in on the overflowing goodness of ESPN’s YouTube page, which he tells the PRod Pod, offers a “comprehensive representation of” what ESPN provides.In the concluding “Fab 5” segment with ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe, Foss divulges an affection for Marvel’s Daredevil, a truism for all who partake in social media and even nearly breaks out in a rendition of his favorite Blippi tune.“The ’Excavator Song’ is a JAM,” Foss says.And that is not debateable!
As the saying goes: "Good leaders make others better." That is what I think about whenever I have the opportunity to work with Gustavo Coletti, senior managing producer. In his 13-year journey at ESPN, "Gus," as he's known to his colleagues, has played an integral role in helping ESPN tell authentic stories about the Latino community.A storyteller by trade, Gus has a unique ability to find human-interest stories – some of which might perhaps have gone untold - about the Latino community. Throughout his time at ESPN, Gus has contributed on multiple Sports Emmy-nominated features, including "El Paso Strong", which reports on the recovery of youth soccer team, EP Fusion, following the trauma of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas; "Prichard Colon", which tells the story of an up and coming boxing prospect Prichard Colon, who after a bout in 2015 was left with severe brain damage; "Roberto Clemente 21", which focuses on the push to retire Roberto Clemente's No. 21 in MLB; that's just to name a few.Gus has spearheaded the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee for multiple years. As usual, he was able to bring together colleagues from across the company to put forward one of ESPN's most robust content strategies to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month.In this episode of the PRod Pod, Jon McLeod, Associate Producer, Communications, caught up with Gus for his thoughts on his journey as a storyteller and much more.
March and April can have their lions and lambs, May was an absolute monster month for ESPN’s Brian Lockhart. On the seventh of the month, he was promoted to Senior Vice President, ESPN+ Original Content and ESPN Films. And on the 18th, during the Walt Disney Company’s Upfront day, Lockhart and team unveiled a new slate of ESPN+ original content and a new 30 for 30 project that got more than a bit of attention.Communications Associate Producer Jon McLeod welcomes Lockhart to this episode of the PRod Pod and he admits to not entirely anticipating how his second stint at ESPN would unfold (he worked for the network after graduating from Holy Cross, where he played basketball).
With today’s news of Michael Eaves’s multi-year contract extension, Communications Associate Producer Jon McLeod welcomes Eaves for a wide-ranging conversation about the new deal, his dad’s influence on a devotion to golf and the night he came to work and delivered this powerful message, in the early days after George Floyd was murdered almost one year ago.
In this episode, Senior Publicist Anna Negron welcomes SportsCenter Anchor Elle Duncan to the podcast, for an honest discussion on motherhood, maintaining positive social justice momentum, of course, music. Duncan also warns Negron (a professional singer herself) to watch out for the anchor’s daughter, Eva, who could soon be grabbing gigs of her own. In addition to her 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter duties with co-anchor Kevin Negandhi, Duncan most recently appeared in ESPN+’s presentation of The Undefeated’s A Love Letter to Black Women and is a highly recommended follow on Twitter and Instagram. The show concludes with PRod Pod Producer and ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe taking Elle through the required “Fab Five” lightning round.  
Welcome to Episode 2 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. Hosted by various ESPN PR professionals, the PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.In this episode, Communications Associate Producer Jon McLeod welcomes The Undefeated’s Deputy Editor Sharon Matthews to the podcast, where they trace Sharon’s path to ESPN, early influences and the amazing tale of searching for pre-NBA LeBron James in Akron, Ohio. Matthews has been instrumental in ESPN’s Black History Always efforts and offers insight into how the project has been brought to life. Sharon also becomes the very first guest to enter the fast-paced “Fab 5” question zone, with McLeod and producer Kiana Lowe.
In this episode, ESPN Communications Associate Producer Jon McLeod welcomes ESPN Films Producer Marquis Daisy to the podcast, where they focus on Daisy’s latest project, “The March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream,” which debuted on NatGeo last week and is available on-demand from Hulu.
Welcome to Episode 8 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic.It’s only appropriate the recording of this episode took place on Sept. 7, 2021 – 42 years to the day that ESPN first signed on as a spunky upstart in the fledgling cable industry. Soon thereafter, a bright-eyed, eager St. Bonaventure University graduate, Chris LaPlaca, joined the ESPN PR team in Bristol, Conn., recalling how his first “office” was located in a trailer with a view of a scrap metal shop.As the network developed its pioneering spirit, LaPlaca was on the ground floor of charting a course for what is now an award-winning, best-in-class PR department that employs strategic tools like websites, social media and, yes, PODCASTS in telling the story of ESPN.LaPlaca was named ESPN’s Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications in June 2008.  For LaPlaca, as he shares with Communications Associate Producer and PRod Pod host Jon McLeod, “relationships are what matter most” and he has built a boatload of them in over 40 years with ESPN. Additionally, LaPlaca reveals how he leans on his days in the service industry for survival in the corporate world.In the concluding “Fab 5” segment with ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe, LaPlaca’s anecdotes regarding former colleague Stuart Scott and the event held on ESPN’s 40thanniversary are especially poignant discussion topics.
Welcome to Episode 7 of the ESPN PRod Pod, the official podcast of the ESPN Communications Department. The PRod Pod takes you behind ESPN’s unmatched storytelling by introducing the people behind the content – who they are, where they’re from and how they create the magic. One year ago, when voice artist, author and R&B DJ/enthusiast Cayman Kelly added the title of “Voice of ESPN Radio” to his already impressive resume, he took the opportunity to reflect a bit: “I have turned to [ESPN] as a fan for years,” he said. “Now, to suddenly be a part of the sports magic is surreal! I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity.”  Likewise, Communications Associate Producer Jon McLeod was thankful to have had the time he and ESPN Fan Relations Senior Coordinator Kiana Lowe shared with Kelly earlier this summer for this episode on the PRod Pod. From his youth in DC to his never-give-up approach in navigating the audio business, Cayman shouts out his wife for helping him follow his dream and in Lowe’s “Fab 5,” he offers some vocal exercises to help all levels of voice artists or public speakers. As he tells McLeod, “I need to share this story to inspire somebody not just for personal gain. That’s my biggest goal is to invest in another human life.” Invest your time with a listen to the “PRod Pod, Episdoe 7.” Cayman on IG; Cayman on Twitter and Cayman’s Book    
In this special episode, Communications Associate Producer Jon McLeod welcomes his ESPN Communications colleague, photographer Phil Ellsworth, who snapped the weekend’s most compelling sports photo (above) – and one that will surely make any “Best of 2021 Photography” list worth its salt.
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