Talent agents talk sports broadcast industry


From left to right: Sandy Herz, Al Jaffe, Steve Montag discussed the sports broadcasting business. Photo: Dylan Rossiter/Beacon Staff

By Dylan Rossiter, Emerson '21

Students gathered in the Bright Family Screening room Wednesday for a panel discussion on the agent and talent relationship of the sports broadcasting industry.

The panel was moderated by Al Jaffe ‘68, ESPN’s vice president of talent from 1996 to 2015. Jaffe was joined by veteran talent agents Steve Montag and Sandy Herz, who represent sports media personalities such as John Madden, Bob Costas, and Erin Andrews.

“In prior events we had talked about on-air talent, and I kind of thought this was a good chance to show students that there is a whole business side and what those guys can do for you,” Jaffe, co-vice chair of the Board of Trustees said.

Last year, Jaffe and the college hosted Boston Globe and ESPN columnist and commentator Jackie MacMullan. In 2017, the series launched with an appearance by former ESPN President John Skipper.

“It’s important for students to see the people who have come before them and what they have been able to accomplish—kind of set a goal for what they will achieve,” assistant professor Spencer Kimball said. “You can’t get this from just reading a textbook. Our students are getting access to information that unfortunately often takes people a lot of failure in life to get, and for the panelists to be able to provide it to us is really an important asset to our program because we believe in an immersive program, not just a theoretical one.”  

The effective use of social media as a professional came up throughout the event. Herz reminded students to never post anything on social media they wouldn’t want their mother to read.

Sophomore journalism major Katie Rhee, who asked a question on the issue of diversity in the sports broadcasting world, said she learned a lot from the event.

“[The panelists] touched upon the fact that while there has been significant changes and improvements within the industry, there can always be more,” Rhee said.

Rhee said she dreams of making it as a sports broadcaster.

“I couldn’t pass on an opportunity to hear some of the most experienced agents in the country. I think that this event and events in the past that the college has put on are incredibly beneficial to my field of work.”

The panel, originally scheduled for last Wednesday in the Bill Bordy Theatre, had to be rescheduled and moved across campus because of the anticipated fourth Nor’easter of the season, which narrowly spared Boston at the last minute on March 21.

Kimball said the event is great from an education perspective but stressed that it also acts as a networking forum for students within the Sports Communication program.

“This is a great program to have the students come together and meet each other. We have very small classes and sometimes we have juniors not meeting the freshman and this just brings us all together in one place.”